It's 8 a.m. in Los Angeles, and Kevin Nealon is on the phone. He's been up for hours, but there is no rock 'n' reason for this. Instead, the sensible comedian with the enduring career has a perfectly domestic explanation: "I have a 5-year-old. I know how quick it's going to go by, so I'm appreciating every minute of it." Nealon, who brings his stand-up gig to the Club at Treasure Island on Friday, is perhaps best known for his classic work on Saturday Night Live: Mr. Subliminal, Hans and Franz, Weekend Update. There's also the 58-year-old's myriad cameos in Adam Sandler movies (Happy Gilmore, Little Nicky) plus his current role in Showtime's high-times dramedy Weeds.
Nealon is a busy guy, but he still had time to call up Stuck in the '80s hosts Sean Daly and Steve Spears to talk catchphrases, honeyrose herb advocates and how Arnold Schwarzenegger killed Hans and Franz.
How often does someone come up to you on the street and quote your Happy Gilmore line: "Doin' the Bull Dance, feelin' the flow"?
[Laughs] You know, I've done so many different things that are catchy. It's Happy Gilmore when I'm golfing in a pro-am tournament, people yelling out, "Feel the flow!" "Be the ball" "Harness the good, block the bad." Then there are the people who know me as Mr. Cheezle from Grandma's Boy. So they're quoting that, or Saturday Night Live stuff.
Weeds has been such a huge hit. Do you get people offering you pot all the time?
Occasionally people offer me pot, and I explain that I don't smoke pot. And they're surprised, because I'm on that show. They think I'm a big pothead! I get a lot of letters from the hemp society and marijuana advocates. I'm not involved in that stuff. I'm just an actor playing this role. What we smoke on there is actually a honeyrose herb. I would think I'd be getting calls from the honeyrose herb advocates. It's not as innocent as it sounds; we actually get it from the honeyrose herb cartel in Colombia.
You're a big star. Why still do the standup gig?
It's really what I started out doing; the acting came secondary. Before Saturday Night Live, I was doing The Tonight Show and Letterman. I never stopped doing it. It's really my passion, my forte. There's that immediate gratification from the audience, you're one unit, all together.
Did Johnny Carson invite you over to the couch on The Tonight Show? That was always the ultimate honor.
I did actually. Yeah, he called me over, and that was the biggest natural high I've ever had. It was like passing your bar exam as a lawyer. After doing that show, and before it aired, I was floating, knowing I did well, that he called me over to the couch.
Where does SNL rank on your natural highs?
Right up there. Some people go on that show and they complain that it's so competitive, but I had no expectations. I never thought I'd be on a show like that. I didn't do sketches and characters; I did standup. I stayed for nine seasons. It was as much stress as you put on yourself. It's more of a marathon than a sprint.
Is it true there was going to be a Hans and Franz movie?
Yes, we wrote a musical! Hans and Franz: The Girly Man Dilemma. I wrote it with Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel and Dana Carvey. Arnold Schwarzenegger was co-producing with us, and he was going to star in it. We got it written, sold it to Sony. But I think Arnold got cold feet.
When you came up with Mr. Subliminal, was that a hard sell to writers and producers?
No, they totally got it. I remember right before going on to do that sketch — this was my first sketch on Saturday Night Live. It was nerve-wracking; it's like having two conversations at once. I remember seconds before going out, coming out of commercial, (show creator and producer) Lorne Michaels taps me on the shoulder — keep in mind, my first sketch ever — and says, "Are you sure this is what you want?"
To hear the full Kevin Nealon interview, go to tampabay.com/blogs/80s.