Sitting Down With SNL Legend & Comedy Great Kevin Nealon In Anticipation Of His San Diego Performance This Saturday, February 29

February 17, 2020

In anticipation of his performance at San Diego's Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center this Saturday, February 29, we sat down with comedy legend Kevin Nealon to talk about his time in San Diego, his favorite area restaurants, and his ideal taco.

As one of the longest-running cast members on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (1986-1995), Kevin Nealon created some of the show’s most memorable characters, including The Subliminal Man and Hans and Franz. Nealon’s recurring role as an anchor on Weekend Update helped make the sketch a show staple. Nealon sets himself apart from other comedic performers with his unique sense of humor, dry wit and likeable demeanor. He has received critical acclaim for his role in the Showtime series Weeds and is currently seen as one of the stars on the CBS-TV comedy series Man With A Plan. He also hosts, edits, and produces his own viral YouTube series called Hiking With Kevin where he hosts guests like Jimmy Kimmel, Aubrey Plaza, Lin Manuel-Miranda, and Kate Beckinsale, all while hiking. We recently had the chance to interview Mr. Nealon, who was once a San Diego resident and frequently visits America's Finest City:

Where did you live in San Diego? And did your time in there inspire any of your many comedic characters?

I lived in North Park. My roommate and I, having just driven cross country from Connecticut landed Department Store Santa jobs through a temporary help agency called, “Manpower.” I worked at the Sears department store in North Park except for a week as Santa in the reptile area of the San Diego zoo. This was around November 1977. I don’t know who the girl is on my lap. She saw me talking about being a Santa when I was a guest on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. She sent this, asking if that was me. It was. Also, take it easy. My right hand is merely framing the picture and keeping her from sliding off. They coat those Santa pants with Scotch Guard because a lot of kids get so nervous they pee on Santa’s lap. I don’t remember this to be the case with this individual. I used to tell this story about being a Santa in my stand-up act so, yes, it did inspire me.

Being a longtime vegan, what do you think about the proliferation of plant-based eateries in America’s Finest City? 

“Proliferation” sounds negative for some reason. How about “ubiquitous?”☺ Also, I go in and out of the vegan thing. I am currently just vegetarian. I think it’s great that there are more and more options to dine out on plant-based fare. There has no doubt been a shift in eating habits due to raised awareness of its health benefits and also the negative impact eating meat has on our bodies and the ecosystem.

What are your favorite area restaurants and why?

I’ve always been a fan of Café Gratitude. Their menu is inspired and it is always changing. Evolution is also a favorite of mine if I’m in a hurry. They serve phenomenal veggie burgers and they have a drive-thru.

What is your favorite San Diego neighborhood and what is the reason?

I have fond memories of the Sunset Cliffs area although I did dislocate my big toe there while kicking a soccer ball around with my buddy John. I went to the emergency room and they popped it back in but that toe is a mess to this day. It has got to be the most grotesque bunion ever! My friends get nauseated just looking at it. I wear socks when I go to the beach now so I don’t cause alarm.

Flour or corn tortilla on your taco and what is your preferred filling?

If It’s an authentic Mexican restaurant I will go with the corn tortilla, otherwise, flour. My preferred filling is refried beans, sour cream, guacamole, salsa (medium), shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and beyond meat crumbles. By the way, that’s also what I like on my baked potatoes.

We saw your hilarious set at KAABOO in 2018, what do you think about the festival moving to Petco Park in downtown San Diego?

I didn’t know that was happening. I’m not that familiar with Petco Park but I’m sure there must be a good reason for it.

We know you are not a huge drinker, but are there any San Diego breweries, distilleries, kombucha brands, or cideries that you enjoy?

To be honest with you, those kombucha drinks kind of scare me. I don’t like the idea of that stuff floating around in it. I know it’s supposed to be healthy but I just can’t get on board. Also, those drinks have a tendency to shoot out as you open them. You’re right, I’m not a big drinker but I do like an occasional cold one from Coronado Brewing Co.

Kevin Nealon will be performing an evening of stand-up comedy this Saturday, February 29, at 8pm inside the David & Dorothea Garfield Theatre at the Lawrence Family JCC in La Jolla. Tickets start at $38 ($33 for JCC Members) and are available online. Get your passes before the event sells out