Kevin Nealon was late for our phone call earlier this week, but he had a good reason. His four-year-old son Gable had a breakthrough in potty training and Nealon got distracted.
“He got on the horse,” he said. “We have to keep him on it.”
Nealon, 57, has managed to stay on his comedic horse for more than 30 years, most notably his nine-year stint on “Saturday Night Live” from 1986 to 1995 and his current run as morally hazy accountant Doug Wilson on Showtime’s “Weeds.” He also does stand-up gigs, including Friday and Saturday, August 26 and 27, at the Punchline Comedy Club.
“My stand-up has evolved over the years,” Nealon said. “I’m talking about real things but exaggerate a bit. It’s very conversational, nonthreatening.”
He’ s doing weekend gigs to test out material for a stand-up special in February.
Nealon also tests material on his Twitter page (@kevin_nealon), which has an impressive 1.3 million followers. “If I get retweeted a lot, that’s a good joke,” he said.
The nice thing about those quiet hybrid cars? Easier to hear my road-rage threats.
Depardieu peeing on the carpet reminds me that I don’t miss having cats.
Why is it that customer service representatives never clearly pronounce their name on the phone? Who can I talk to about that?
We are going paperless in our house and it’s presenting a real problem in the bathroom. Maybe there’s an app for that?
Jokes in 140 characters or less may sound a bit disjointed in a stand-up setting, he acknowledged. “But it helps you be succinct and that’s always good. I kind of get the idea from the responses.”
Would he want to do a talk show? “I’ve considered it. Every comic has a podcast now out of their garage. It’s kind of like your own talk show. I’ve been doing a thing at the local Laugh Factory on Tuesdays. It’s new material night. I go up and do 10 minutes of new material. There are seven other comics and I interview them on stage. It’s farm training time.”
“Weeds,” which is airing now in its seventh season, could make it to season eight, Nealon said. He is flattered that his character has survived all the moves the Botwin family has made thus far. The writers, much to his amazement, have managed to keep Doug around. “I was just glad to be kept on board,” he said. Last season, Doug needed a passport and had to see his ex wife Dana. He almost reunited with her, but that would have been the end of his character’s journey with the show.
Instead, he fled to Copenhagen season six with the rest of the family, save for Nancy (Mary Louise-Parker), who was in jail, taking the fall for her son Shane. But when the Botwins found out Nancy was out of jail, they all traveled back to New York City. There, a friend hired Doug as a hedge fund manager at a corrupt financial firm. He was hired more for his softball prowess than his financial smarts. So he started taking steroids, causing the usual ‘roid-related symptoms. He also helped Nancy get a job and saved her from going back to jail with some smart double talking this past episode.
“Every year, they write themselves into a box. They have to challenge themselves to get out of it,” Nealon said.
Nealon’s trip to Atlanta will include family visits: his two brothers live in Roswell and he’ll bring his son to play with his two cousins.
We talked about his son Gable entering kindergarten soon and the debate he’s having with his wife over whether to send him to a private or public school. This led to me asking what Nealon was like in school. He said he was surprisingly not the class clown. He recalls being a bit “wimpish.” His arrival on “SNL” years later surprised his high school brethren. In fact, it surprised him. “I never had aspirations to be on that show. I wasn’t a sketch player. I didn’t do impersonations. I was a stand-up guy.”
And yes, his son is named Gable after Clark Gable. “We were looking for some kind of name that was a little different but not too Apple-ish,” he said. “We looked at street signs and ports in Europe. We saw some posters and one had Clark Gable on it. That name stuck.”
Punchline Comedy Club
280 Hilderbrand Dr., Atlanta
Friday, 8 p.m., 10 p.m.
Saturday, 7 p.m., 9 p.m.
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog