Overheard with Kevin Nealon

26 Feb

overheardIn a town full of cool, free options for entertainment*, the PBS “Overheard with Evan Smith” tapings somehow manage to fly under the radar. They’re free, open to the public, they don’t check RSVP and they bring in big names. I’d seen David Cross and Tony Hale‘s hilarious tapings (full video in hyperlinks) and they’ve brought in everyone from Fred Armisen to Aimee Mann and Neil deGrasse Tyson. This was the first chance I’d had to take Caitlin, and, even though we barely made it in time**, we caught a great free show and had an entire section of the studio to ourselves***. Now that the video of the Q&A is up, we figured we’d write it up and implore you to go to the next taping****.

*I am 100% guilty of taking this for granted a lot of the time. We really do have all kinds of cool stuff go down in Austin on the regular.

**You can chalk that up to me being out of shape from spending 2-3 months recovering from a knee injury that kept me from doing almost any physical activity. I’m rehabbing now, but it’s a slow road, so the crazy uphill biking path we had to take to get to this thing nearly knocked me out.

***I managed to bring attention to that as I was swinging my backpack off to sit down…and my aluminum water bottle came crashing to the ground. Yipes.

****But leave room for us, please!


“Who? Oh. Wait, yeah I know who that is,” was Caitlin’s initial reaction to going to see Kevin Nealon*. I’d been a fan for years, ever since he was on SNL doing “Hanz and Franz” and anchored Weekend Update from ’91 to ’94, just as I was old enough to start watching and understanding the show. Not only that, he was great in “Happy Gilmore” and the 11 other Sandler movies** he’s appeared in and was my favorite character on “Weeds”. Even if you didn’t know Nealon going in, his interview was endlessly charming. He didn’t think he had a shot at SNL, since he was a stand-up who didn’t do impressions. He impressed Lorne*** and ended up staying on for nine seasons. A theme in Nealon’s career was getting a chance and then growing into a featured player. On “Weeds” he was supposed to be a guest star and became a cast member for eight seasons. Whether talking about having a son late in life, balancing traveling for work with personal life and staying on shows too long, he was always funny and open and honest.

*I provided an equally shameful reaction when my co-worker told me that Harold Ramis had died. Yes, I’ve seen “Ghostbusters” and “Groundhog’s Day” and “Knocked Up” and all kinds of things, but no, I didn’t know who he was. I’m pretty terrible when it comes to actors who aren’t Tom Hanks/Leonardo DiCaprio/Zach Braff/Tina Fey.

**”Great” and “Sandler movies”? I feel like we need to rewrite this sentence so those words do not appear together. #Sandlerhater

***When I made my first pass at this sentence I read, “He impersonated Lorde” and I got super excited to see that/sad when it didn’t exist.

My favorite story of the interview didn’t make it into the show or the Q&A unless they edit it in from the end of the Q&A. An audience member who looked like he came to the taping straight from a day on Town Lake asked a vague question about him “crop dusting” someone. Nealon hilariously asked the guy to bring his kayak around after the show and then went into a story about meeting Jack Nicholson. Long story short, Nicholson snubbed him and Nealon got retaliation by farting near him and walking away and in the re-telling of the story, Nealon does an incredible Nicholson impression saying, “What died in here?” Nealon seemed proud that even though he didn’t make an impression on the legendary actor, he “got inside him.*” It was nice to spend some time in Nealon’s wonderfully funny brain. Don’t miss the next “Overheard” with someone you’re interested in**.

*That said, it didn’t sound like the fart attack was purposeful – we’ll call it a happy accident, I guess?

**Seriously. By the end of this show I felt so lucky to live in Austin where I could sweatily clamber into the old Austin City Limits venue on a random Saturday to listen to a legend share some insider stories. At one point, the guy keeping time on the show saw me looking at him as he was showing the cue cards to Evan Smith, so he turned it around to me and gave me the thumbs’ up. Is there a better way to feel a part of the action? I don’t think so. Thanks, Austin!

Watch the online only Q&A here and look for the episode Thursday, March 20th


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