Kevin Nealon spent nine years on “Saturday Night Live,” and in that time established himself with a deadpan calm that lead to many stealthy laughs, with characters like Mr. Subliminal, and one-half of the weight-lifting Schwarzenegger-parody duo Hans and Franz.
After leaving the show, Nealon continued securing movie and TV roles, but never really found a way to establish himself the way “SNL” had until the Showtime series “Weeds,” where his pothead accountant Doug Wilson became the perfect outlet for Nealon’s mellow irreverence.
Now, Nealon has found another appropriate outlet, and this one is significantly less mellow. His new book, “Yes, You’re Pregnant, But What About Me?” (excerpt available from publisher Harper Collins details his time as a 53-year-old, first-time expectant father, and serves as both a guide for fellow fathers-to-be and a humorous look at the most jittery, nerve-wracking time in a man’s life.
Bankrate spoke to Nealon about the book, his career, the travails of fatherhood and financial planning.
Bankrate: How did this book come about?
Kevin Nealon: I had run into (publisher) Judith Regan a year-and-a-half, two years ago. She was at an event I was doing stand-up at, and she asked me if I had ever thought about writing a book, and I said that I had, and it seemed like a lot of work.
She encouraged me to write a book because she liked my material, and for a while I was trying to think of what to write about. My wife got pregnant a year later, and I was writing every day during her pregnancy, and I said to Judith, maybe I should write a book about what it’s like for a guy to go through his wife’s pregnancy, because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of books in that area — what to prepare them for, and to let them know that they’re not alone during these crazy times. I think it’s a good book for the wife to get the father of their baby.
Bankrate: But also, coming from a comedy background as you do, you blended a lot of comedy into the book. Were you and Judith looking at this as a self-help book, or a comedy book?
Kevin Nealon: It was a collection of comedic essays, I think, and a memoir of me coming to terms with having a baby at my age, and going through these different insecurities and anxieties.
Bankrate: Since it’s so personal, were you checking with Susan (Nealon’s wife) as you were writing this to see what she would be comfortable with you including?
Kevin Nealon: Yeah. I would write first, then have her read it to see if she would have a problem with it. Luckily, she was OK with a lot of the stuff, but there were some things she preferred I didn’t include. I really learned about the art of negotiating from all that.
Bankrate: You balance the comedy in the book with serious moments, like your search for your ancestors, and your previous marriage, which ended in divorce. As someone whose sole job for the past 20 years or so has been to be funny, was it difficult dealing with the serious side of your life?
Kevin Nealon: I think most comedy comes from a serious place — you really can’t have comedy without the seriousness. I think the comedy hits harder when you come from the truth, and it was a little difficult exposing some of those areas because they’re close to my heart. But I thought it would hit a little harder if I included all that.
Bankrate: Once Gable (Nealon’s son) was born and you settled into fatherhood, what was the biggest surprise for you?
Kevin Nealon: I think how resilient a baby is. They’re pretty durable. Not that we dropped our baby or anything, but they cry, they eat — they survive. It’s not such a big deal. I was also surprised at how much I could actually love something. I knew I would love the baby, but I never knew the extent — how deep that love is.
Bankrate: “Weeds” has been a great success for Showtime. What has the show meant for your career?
Kevin Nealon: I was on “Saturday Night Live” for nine seasons, so that’s what people know me from. Since I left the show, I was hoping to find something else that would be as important in my career as that, so that I just wasn’t a one-note guy. Then “Weeds” came along, after a couple of other failed sitcoms I did, and it filled that void for me.
Now, most of the people who come and see my stand-up are “Weeds” fans. They assume I smoke pot because I do on the show, so after the show someone will come up to me with a joint and say, “Hey dude, you wanna smoke this?” And I’ll thank them and say, “I don’t really smoke pot, but thanks anyway.” Then I started thinking — I wonder if the actors from “The Sopranos,” when they go out to dinner, if someone will come up to them with a .38 and say, “Hey dude, after dinner, wanna go out and whack some people?”
Bankrate: In the book, you talk about being a late bloomer in life. Does that apply to the financial planning side of your life as well?
Kevin Nealon: Oh yeah. I never really was that interested or involved in financial planning, and then when we were going through the pregnancy, we met with some financial planners about trust funds.
The interesting thing about sitting down and working with that person is that they pretty much tell you that you have to consider that your baby is going to be an absolute loser — an imbecile with money. So you have to write everything out: how any money is going to be given to him if you should die; at what age; what he can spend it on. So when your baby is born, you’re looking at it like it’s a complete loser. Already the kid has to go to therapy to get over that.
Bankrate: So now that you’ve done this, if you have another child, is this all out of the way and simple now, or do you have to do the whole thing all over again?
Kevin Nealon: I think this is one of those things that’s never done. You have to revisit it every year. I’m already having second thoughts about some of the requirements in my son’s trust fund: things like, he can buy a car that has the value of the best Acura; or, he can’t get any money if he rides a motorcycle. I’m thinking maybe we’re being too hard on him. He doesn’t have to learn how to juggle before he gets any money. If we had another one, I’d probably make things a lot easier.
Bankrate: Have you given any thought to how you’ll prepare Gable for the financial side of life?
Kevin Nealon: Yeah. I think I’ll talk about it more with him — show him how to balance a checkbook, and talk to him more about financial planning and stocks and things like that. But it’s kind of like learning a new language. You gotta do it when you’re ready.
Bankrate: While you were at “SNL,” were you already investing and saving wisely?
Kevin Nealon: I was definitely investing and saving. I bought some homes, I invested in stocks, and basically I think I did a good job. Not that we made a lot of money on that show. When you do a late night show like that, it’s probably the worst paying job in television.
Bankrate: Even nine years on?
Kevin Nealon: Well, after a couple of years you start to get bumps in your paycheck, but the first couple of years it’s pretty bleak.