Kevin Nealon returns to Tampa to bring the laughs


After getting his big break on “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson,” Kevin Nealon has spent the past 30 years making a name for himself on stage, TV and in films. 

Most recognized from his long stint on “Saturday Night Live,” his many roles in Adam Sandler films and portraying the loveable but impulsive pothead Doug Wilson on “Weeds,” Nealon is set to have a busy year: he will appear in two films, “Blended” and “Walk of Shame.”

The Oracle spoke with Nealon before he once again brings his stand-up act to Tampa this weekend. He will be performing two shows a day on Friday and Saturday at the Tampa Improv. Tickets are $25.

Oracle (O): Many people may recognize you most from your TV and film career, what can the audience expect from your stand-up show?

Kevin Nealon (KN): A lot of people may come in thinking they’re coming to see Doug Wilson from “Weeds;” some might think they are coming to see some of my characters from the Sandler films. But basically it’s conversational – it’s kind of absurd stuff. A lot is based on my own life; it’s very personal with a little bit of a twist to it.

O: You had your start in stand-up and have been doing it for a long time. What do you prefer, acting or stand-up?

KN: I do enjoy both of them. It is hard to pick one over the other. I like stand up because it is so immediate. You get the reaction right away from the audience. The filming sometimes takes a while and it doesn’t come out until a year later. 

O: Who inspires you?

KN: There were so many while I was growing up. I watched a lot of Jerry Lewis movies. Probably my three contemporary inspirations are Steve Martin, Albert Brooks and Andy Kaufman. They were always so unique and original (and) always doing things that others weren’t doing. I really enjoyed how they were almost unpredictable. You didn’t know what they were going to do next. I think that is the essence of comedy – the element of surprise. 

O: You have played a lot of different characters over the years, what has been your favorite role to play?

KN: I really did love playing Doug Wilson because he is really a loose canon and fun to play. In life you have to be responsible and follow the rules, but he was kind of a rule breaker.

O: What is one of your most memorable stand-up moments? 

KN: Arguably it would be the first time I was on the “Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.” At the time, I was so fresh and it was such a thrill to be on a big TV show like that with Johnny. I grew up watching him – I was dreaming of getting on that show. There is no other show that I had so much vested in. I really achieved one of my goals by being on that show – even more so than being on “SNL” and “Weeds.” 

O: You have been to Tampa before; do you enjoy performing here?

KN: I’m looking forward to Tampa. I come down there quite a bit. I have really gotten comfortable with the environment down there. The audiences are always fun and they are good laughers. I’m looking forward to it.