Kevin Nealon spent nine seasons in the late 1980s and early 1990s on “Saturday Night Live,” where he created memorable characters like Hans and Franz and Mr. Subliminal, and anchored Weekend Update.
Later, he played the twisted and oft-stoned accountant Doug Wilson on Showtime’s “Weeds.” He appears often in supporting movie roles and produces “Laugh Lessons” for AOL, where established comics give comedy lessons to 8-year-olds.
Q: You and Dana Carvey recently brought back Hans and Franz, with Aaron Rodgers, for those State Farm ads. Are people shouting “We’re here to pump you up” on streets again?
A: Those characters were so popular. Even space shuttle astronauts were doing them. But I haven’t heard it that much in the last decade or so. But since the commercial came out, you hear it a lot now. They’re just fun characters to do. And talking like Arnold (Schwarzenegger) is always fun.
Q: And you must have spent a lot of time in the gym putting those muscles back on?
A: Oh my, yes. A lot of people think that’s stuffing in those sweatsuits, but it’s all solid muscle.
Q: You had a long and successful run on “SNL.” How did you know when it was time to leave?
A: In the beginning, it was exhilarating. It was a real rush. But during the eighth year, I remember going on with food in my mouth still from the craft services table. I was picking brownies out of my teeth during a sketch. It wasn’t the thrill it used to be.
Q: Your other commercial we’re seeing a lot is the one for Xarelto with Arnold Palmer and Brian Vickers. The heart condition that it treats is something you really have. I read that you ended up in a Mexican emergency room?
A: Right. That’s where it all started, in Puerto Vallarta. Not because it was a dire situation. It was an irregular heartbeat that can lead to a stroke caused by a blood clot. After that Mexico trip, it went away for seven years. (Nealon had a surgical procedure in September. The surgery) seems to have fixed it and I no longer take Xarelto. But at the filming of the commercial, I was taking it.
Q: During the shoot did you get to spend quality time with Palmer?
A: We ended up sitting around a lot just talking. Arnold is the King. Very respected. Laughs a lot. Loves Westerns. I said, “I grew up watching ‘The Rifleman.’ ” He said Chuck Connors gave him his rifle. I said I was golfing in Palm Springs at the PGA West. He said, “I designed that course.” Anything I mentioned he had something to do with it. I said, “I was golfing at that minigolf course by the freeway.” And he said, “I designed the windmill.”
Q: Did he give you any golf tips?
A: I said, “Mr. Palmer, can you show me your putting grips?” And he held his hands out. They were so weathered. And he went through an array of different golf grips for putting.
Q: I understand you have been working on a few TV pilots?
A: I shot a pilot called “Tommy” for CBS. That’s with comic Tommy Johnagin. I play his father. We are waiting to hear back from AOL to see if they want to do another season of “Laugh Lessons.” And I’m shooting a film next week. It’s a small role in a Judd Apatow produced film called “The Lonely Island.”
Q: I’m assuming your 8-year-old son Gable was a motivating factor in the creation of “Laugh Lessons”?
A: Yes. (Comedian) Garry Shandling was over at my house three or four years ago, and he was teaching Gable how to do a pratfall. I thought it would make a great TV or Web series: an established comic teaching 8-year-olds the art of comedy. Ellen DeGeneres was interested in it, so we co-produced it together. She was in an episode as were some of my friends: Adam Sandler, Sarah Silverman …
Q: Judging from the charities you support, I’m guessing that you’re an advocate for animals?
A: I became aware of the plight of animals through my ex-wife. I still do things for animals but there’s no more Fur-Free Friday marches.
Q: Do you have pets at home?
A: No, but we live near the ocean, so we have a lot of fish.