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Best known as a long-running cast member of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) and the show's "Weekend Update" anchor for three seasons, actor, comedian and writer Kevin Nealon got his start working the trenches of the L.A. stand-up comedy scene and was fortunate enough to land on "SNL" at the start of one of its most revered eras - one that included fellow Not-Ready-for-Primetime-Players like Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Jan Hooks and Dana Carvey. But after nearly a decade in the show's acclaimed ensemble cast, Nealon's career seemed to lack direction, unlike many of his co-stars who left "SNL" for greener Hollywood pastures. Following several failed sitcom attempts and seemingly endless cameos in teenage mall comedies, Nealon finally came into his own with winning roles on Showtime's dark comedy series "Weeds" (Showtime, 2003-2012), playing a client-turned-cohort to a suburban pot dealing mom, and the antic older brother on Matt LeBlanc's family comedy "Man With A Plan" (CBS 2016- ). Having established himself as a dependable supporting player and stand-up comedian in his own right, Nealon had largely moved beyond his notoriety as merely an "SNL" alumni.
Kevin Nealon was born in Bridgeport, CT, on Nov. 18, 1953. As a kid, he memorized the jokes printed in Parade magazine, trying them out on friends. At Central High School, he played guitar in bands and fantasized about life as a musician, but he quickly learned that singing onstage made him considerably more nervous than telling jokes. Nealon first tried his hand at stand-up comedy while a student at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, and after being bit by the bug, following his graduation with a marketing degree, moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in comedy. He got a job as a bartender at the world famous Improv, which increased his chances of getting regular stage time, as well as performing at various comedy rooms around town. In 1984, Nealon scored a breakthrough when he was scouted for an appearance on "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1954- ) with Johnny Carson. His performance was such a success that he was invited over to the couch to talk with the host afterwards - the biggest vote of confidence an aspiring comic of the day could receive from the revered host.
Nealon's late night TV appearance boosted his profile, but it took another two years before he enjoyed regular paying performances on television. In the summer of 1986, fellow stand-up and friend Dana Carvey was cast for the upcoming season of "Saturday Night Live." It was shaping up to be a pivotal year for the show, which had suffered from several seasons of disruptive personnel shifts that culminated in dismal ratings, unsuccessful casting and a temporary cancellation. Nealon was hired as a featured player and joined Carvey and newcomers Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks and Victoria Jackson for a new era of "SNL" that was considered by many to be among the best eras in the show's history.
The following season Nealon was promoted to official cast member, where he spent the next eight years playing Austrian bodybuilder Franz to Carvey's Hanz, Ganon: the Politically Incorrect Private Investigator, Tarzan, as well as impersonating Sam Donaldson and Larry King. As a writer on the show, Nealon was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1987, and from 1991-94, his deadpan delivery anchored "Weekend Update," launching one of his most popular recurring bits, Mr. Subliminal. Nealon left "SNL" in 1995, at which time Adam Sandler, Mike Meyers, and Chris Farley stepped into the limelight, paving the way for yet another new generation.
During his years on "SNL," Nealon had begun making a few feature film appearances in such comic offerings as "Roxanne" (1987), "All I Want for Christmas" (1991) and "Coneheads" (1993). He picked up with a bit part in former co-star Sandler's "Happy Gilmore" (1986) before making a move to primetime as co-star of the short-lived sitcom "Champs" (ABC, 1996). A second attempt at series comedy, "Hiller & Diller" (ABC, 1997-98), which paired him and Richard Lewis as a comedy-writing team, suffered a similar fate. Nealon retreated to a rather low-profile period of guest spots on sitcoms and in the films of former, more successful "SNL" castmates like Sandler's "The Wedding Singer" (1998) and "Little Nicky" (2000), David Spade's "Joe Dirt" (2001), and Dana Carvey's "Master of Disguise" (2002).
In 2002, Nealon appeared in the fascinating behind-the-scenes stand-up documentary "Comedian" and enjoyed a turn as Sandler's lawyer in "Anger Management" (2003), which represented a slight improvement over his previous broad comedies. Back on the small screen, Nealon was suddenly tapped for frequent appearances as the host of projects like "The Conspiracy Zone" (TNT, 2002), "Poker Royale: The WPPA Championship" (2004) and "Funniest Commercials of the Year" (TBS, 2004-06). He also made frequent appearances as a fill-in host on the late night talk show "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (ABC, 2003- ) and was a regular player on USA's "Celebrity Poker Showdown" (Bravo, 2003-05).
By several critical accounts, Nealon embarked on some of the finest acting work of his career when he was cast as pot smoking city councilman Doug Wilson on "Weeds" in 2003. Showtime's dark comedy starring Mary Louise Parker as a suburban widow who gets involved with drug dealing to supplement her income, incited an award nomination frenzy from the time it debuted. As part of its ensemble cast, Nealon was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2007, proving to naysayers that his talent could finally shine outside the long-casting shadow of "SNL." During his tenure on the hit show, Nealon picked up several cameos on the side, as well, appearing in films like the Sandler comedies "Anger Management" (2003) and "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" (2008).
His mutually beneficial relationship with Showtime eventually led to Nealon's first televised stand-up special "Kevin Nealon: Now Hear Me Out!" (2009), which found the veteran comic pontificating about such relatable subjects as having children and growing older. That same year, he appeared as the father of a family terrorized by little green men in the kids' sci-fi comedy "Aliens in the Attic" (2009). In an exceptionally busy year, he also voiced the title character on the stop-motion animated comedy "Glenn Martin, DDS" (Nick at Nite, 2009-2011). On the series co-created by former Disney head Michael Eisner, Nealon played a well-meaning father and dentist who takes his dysfunctional family on a cross-country road trip in an effort to bring them closer together. Later, he took to the stand-up stage again to record the comedy special "Kevin Nealon: Whelmed, But Not Overly" (Showtime, 2012), aired just as "Weeds" finished its heralded run in the fall of 2012. Nealon took the end of the series as an opportunity to return to the touring life as a stand-up comic, hitting the road for several years while making occasional TV guest appearances on series like throwback sitcom "Hot In Cleveland" (TV Land 2010-15) and films including The Lonely island's "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" (2016). Nealon returned to series television as the hapless older brother and business partner of Matt LeBlanc's lead character in the sitcom "Man With a Plan" (CBS 2016- ).
Cast (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Moved to Los Angeles; tended bar at the Improvisation comedy club and often performed there
Made first "Tonight Show" appearance as a stand-up comedian
Was a cast-member on "Saturday Night Live"
Had featured role in the short-lived ABC sitcom "Champs"
Co-starred in ABC sitcom "Hiller and Diller"
Voiced the mayor in the animated feature "Adam's Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights."
Hosted "TNN's Conspiracy Zone with Kevin Nealon"
Co-starred with Mary Louise Parker and Elizabeth Perkins in the Showtime series "Weeds"
Played a CIA Agent in the feature film remake of "Get Smart"
Reunited with fellow "Saturday Night Live" alum Adam Sandler in the comedy feature "You Don't Mess with the Zohan"
Acted opposite Nick Swardson in the comedy feature "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star"
Cast in a supporting role opposite Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in the romantic comedy "Just Go with It"
Appeared in the drama "Small Time"
Nabbed a supporting role in the fantasy film "Ghost Squad"
Appeared in The Lonely Island's feature comedy "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping"
Began playing Don Burns on the sitcom "Man with a Plan"