by Chad Lehrman
Comedian Kevin Nealon is best known for his Saturday Night Live characters and his role as a pot-smoking accountant on Showtime’s hit series Weeds. Kevin is appearing at Cobb’s Comedy Club in North Beach on November 1st-4th.
I read that you have a new stand-up special in the works. Are you working on new material for that this week?
I am, yes. That’s part of it. Just working on my act, you know. I’m working on a stand-up special and I’m also working on a book that’s coming out next spring.
Congratulations on having a baby earlier this year. Do you have any new material about becoming a father?
Thanks a lot. I do have some material on that. It’s amazing how inspiring something like that is in your life. It just reminded me how lackluster my life has been.
When I was in 5th grade, my friend and I were Hans & Franz for Halloween. How often do people come up to you and want to hear you do all your SNL characters?
It’s funny you should say that cause we came up with those characters in 1987. That’s like 20 years ago now, and it doesn’t seem that long, but it has been. And it kinda makes me feel old cause I’ll have someone in their 30s come up to me and say “hey dude, I grew up watching you,” and I’ll think “Oh my God, I guess I’m getting old.”
What was it like when you first got picked to appear on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson? What did that do for your career?
Well, I think that was the highlight of my career. Even more so than Saturday Night Live. Cause I primarily wanted to be a stand-up comic. That’s all I wanted to be. I hadn’t even thought about acting. Back then, that was like passing the bar exam if you were a lawyer. It validated you. That little window of time after I did it and before it aired, I’ve never had such a natural high before. I was just floating on cloud 9.
Do you still enjoy watching stand-up comedy or are you burned out on it after doing it for so long?
I enjoy it if they’re good and original and different. I saw a girl in St. Louis a couple weeks ago that I liked. I saw her when I was working at the Funny Bone and she was really different and clever and funny. Her name is Andi Smith.
Who else do you like to watch right now?
Well, I like Sarah Silverman, I like Andy Kindler, Todd Glass, Wayne Federman. There’s so many. I was a big fan of Mitch Hedberg.
Who are your main stand-up influences?
Well, when I was getting into it, it was Andy Kaufman, Albert Brooks, and Steve Martin.
Do you think there is a comedy boom happening right now?
Yeah, I think so. I think with the advent of all the cable networks and all the clubs around, it’s pretty apparent that there is a boom right now again. I know there was one in the 80s and it got off for awhile, but I think right now you just see more and more new comics out there. There’s a lot of good comics out there too.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re in the Bay Area?
I just like to kind of walk around. I like to spend the weekends hanging out in that park up near the Marina. I like to poke around in Mill Valley and visit some friends up there. I just kind of hang out and enjoy the weather. It’s so beautiful up there. You know, when you live up there, you kind of forget how nice it is.
What do you think of San Francisco as a comedy town compared to the other places you go?
Well, a lot of people ask me when they’re starting out in comedy where they should move to, and I tell them that I think San Francisco has the best comedy audience. I think they’re the most supportive. Boston is pretty good too, but San Francisco is such a supportive town for comedy.
Watch Kevin perform stand-up on the Late Show with David Letterman: