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Comedian Kevin Nealon's act gets more personal

By P.F. Wilson · November 3rd, 2009 · Onstage

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the legalization of marijuana. Should it just be decriminalized, used only for medicinal purposes or made completely legal? If it’s the latter, what happens to the Showtime series Weeds?

“That’s a good question,” says Kevin Nealon, one of that program’s stars. “I guess it’ll be a show about cigarettes.”

In addition to Weeds, the 55-year-old comedian/actor is probably most widely known for his work on Saturday Night Live, where he anchored the “Weekend Update” segment for so many years. While he skillfully parodied current events on that program, these days his outlook is more domestic, and that’s reflected in his stand-up set.

“A lot of it is based on truth for the most part,” he says while running errands in Los Angeles. “That’s what I’ve been going for these last few years. Sort of changing from my silly stand-up outlook to more of a personal outlook on things. Kind of a reflection of my own life.”

Back in 2005, Nealon married actress Susan Yeagley. In 2007, the couple welcomed their first child, son Gable. Parenthood has had quite an effect on Nealon.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before,” he says. “It’s so brutally difficult at times, but the pay-off is so immense that I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I can see why people would want to be a stay-at-home dad. Such a great job.”

Indeed, the biggest challenge has been getting out of the fast-paced showbiz mindset. “Now I pick up the phone and my son is like ‘No phone, no phone’ when we’re playing,” Nealon says.

Nealon never expected to be on SNL. He had taken acting classes while doing stand-up in Los Angeles, but he didn’t do any characters or impressions, something of a perquisite for potential cast members.

“There were two other guys up for (SNL) when I was up for it,” he recalls. “(It was for) the last spot on the show and it was between Kevin Pollak, Jim Carrey and myself. I heard they already had enough impressionists on the show and they wanted someone like me, I guess. That was odd the way I got that.”

In fact, it was close friend (and adept impressionist) Dana Carvey who originally recommended Nealon. In that same spirit of helping others, Nealon is also paying it forward, having befriended a young comic named Rajiv Satyal, who hails from suburban Fairfield.

Satyal, who has lived in L.A. for the past few years, will headline Thursday and Sunday at The Funny Bone, and he’ll perform with Nealon Friday and Saturday. The two struck up a friendship a few years back when Nealon was playing the Funny Bone on the Levee.

“Jeff Jena, who was booking the Funny Bone, liked me,” Satyal says, “and (asked) ‘Do you want to work with Nealon?’ Who wouldn’t?”

After the show, at the behest of his buddies, Rajiv invited Nealon to join them at the movies. Nealon agreed.

“During the course of the weekend we grabbed dinner, coffee — further than I get with most women in six months really,” Satyal says with a laugh. “I was telling (Kevin) I was reading his book and he goes, ‘You know whose house I was at last night?’ He’s not a name-dropper, he’s not that kind of person at all, but he said, ‘I was at Steve Martin’s house.’ You could see Kevin speak so admiringly of Steve Martin, and it was so funny to see yourself on a rung and you’re looking up at Nealon, and he’s looking up at Steve Martin.”

“I went over to his (parents’) house last time and had dinner with his family,” Nealon says of his protégé. “Got a nice traditional Indian meal. He’s a funny guy.”

KEVIN NEALON performs at Funny Bone on the Levee at 8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday. Local comedian Rajiv Satyal will open the shows. Buy tickets and get venue details here.



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