During his nearly 10-year stretch on " Saturday Night Live," Kevin Nealon created a recurring character known as Subliminal Man. Nowadays, the 54-year-old is probably better known as Doug Wilson, the pot-smoking embezzler on "Weeds" whose creatively offensive dialogue is delivered with an amiable lack of self-awareness. In short, the anti-subliminal man.
It takes a poker face to play Doug Wilson, and when I talked to Nealon by phone last week, he admitted to stifling at least one laugh this season "when Lee Majors showed me a picture of his girlfriend on his cell phone — she's a bodybuilder — I had a lot of trouble keeping a straight face on that one."
The Connecticut-raised comedian, who plays Ashley Tisdale's father in the upcoming movie, "They Came From Upstairs" (in theaters this winter), recently became a father himself, a life-changing moment he chronicled in the book "Yes, You're Pregnant, But What About Me?" Many of those anecdotes form the basis of his stand-up act, which he brings to Zanies St. Charles on Friday, and Zanies Vernon Hills on Saturday.
When not on tour, Nealon lives in South Bay, a beach neighborhood southwest of downtown Los Angeles, along with his wife, actress Susan Yeagley, and their 19-month-old son Gable — "like Clark Gable."
Their 1930s two-bedroom home has a "New Orleans-type feel," he says, "but here's the caveat: We're replacing it in a month or so with a newer, bigger, more-updated home." They're building it on the same property. "I don't like to say 'teardown' because it sounds so violent. It's more like a total face lift for the house. In comedy terms, we're deleting the house. We're deleting it, and attempting to build our dream house."
Nealon's not sure what kind of decor he wants for the new house. " IKEA's got a great new line of furniture out right now," he said, anticipating a large bill from his contractor. "I might even dig out my old college furniture." Either way, Gable's toys will dominate. "He throws stuff wherever he wants … so the look will probably be early 'Romper Room.' "
Most luxurious feature in your home: The garbage disposal. You put food in there, and it just cuts it right up and sends it away.
One thing on a wall in your living room: We have a painting that's of the pier and the main street here. I saw a guy painting by the water and I started asking him questions, and he didn't really answer me for a while. And I thought, oh, this guy's a real artist — he doesn't like to be disturbed. And then it turns out he hardly spoke any English. He's this Italian painter who paints a lot of local scenes, and I loved the painting for some reason and it wasn't that expensive, so I bought it from him on the spot. He's the same guy I'm gonna hire to paint a picture of our house before we delete it.
One thing you have in your house from your childhood: When I was 15 or 16, I had this big old Kimberly guitar from Sears Roebuck that my parents gave me for Christmas one year. I thought it was lost and gone forever. It weighs about 80 pounds and the strings are about 3 inches off the fretboard and it's got four pickups. It's huge. It's like the size of a surfboard. And I was in several garage bands with that — some really great memories. When I moved away from Connecticut I lost track of it, and when I reunited with an old friend of mine a couple years ago, he was cleaning out his father's house after his father died and he found my guitar and he sent it out to me.
Oldest thing in your fridge or freezer: I had a bag of frozen peas, probably from about seven years ago, that I keep for when my back goes out. So it's my ice pack. Although my sister was visiting the other day when we weren't there and she boiled them up for dinner — she didn't know.
One thing on your nightstand: A flashlight, in case there's an earthquake and all the power goes out. And it's always good for beating people about the head.
If we came unexpectedly, would we find your bed made? Depends on what time of the day. If you came after 10 o'clock, yes. Whoever's out of the bed last, it's their job to make it.
Favorite household chore: I have to clean a dirty window if it's really dirty. I don't know if that's my favorite, but it's kind of an OCD thing. I can't be looking at smudge marks on the window.
Most high-tech gadget or appliance in your home: My laptop computer. It's a Mac.
Best furniture bargain you ever got: Probably a bed that I had custom-made. It's a headboard, and it came with night tables too. It was from a place in Venice Beach, Calif. I must have paid about $1,100. It's wood and metal, and it's all kind of welded together, and the wood is different colored squares on the headboard and footboard. And then it has drawers underneath, which is great because I love to have storage space.
Fill in the blank: I can't live without my... Family. But you want something that's more of an object, right? So probably my cell phone.
What is the biggest collection in your home? Toys.
Messiest room in the house: The walk-in closet that used to be a bedroom. It also serves as kind of a pseudo-office. There's not a lot of storage space in this house, so there's a lot of stacking going on.
What reading material would we find in your bathroom? Currently there are about five "Shouts & Murmurs" columns from The New Yorker magazine that I've ripped out. I'm studying those because my goal this year is to try to write one that they will accept.
Three food items you must have in the house at all times: I need to have double-chocolate Milano cookies. I need to have vanilla soy milk. And I need to have oatmeal.
Do you do any friendly snooping when visiting the homes of others? Whenever I'm looking at homes, I look at the bookshelves to see what kind of books they have and see what kind of pictures they have of the family. It always kind of tells a lot about the family.
Favorite place to watch TV: I think in my office above the garage, but I don't get to do that very often because it seems like I'm always playing with my son.
What are you currently reading? Right now, I have a couple of books lined up. One is a Carl Reiner book, "My Anecdotal Life." And "Sit, Ubu, Sit" by Gary David Goldberg. I did just finish re-reading my own book because I'm trying to dig material out of it for my stand-up act. It's a nice journal for me.
How green is your house and your lifestyle? We're pretty green. Just a little bit of yellow in there. We have a hybrid car and we recycle.
Weirdest thing about (or in) your home? For us, we had an ant problem for a while. I don't know if it was after a rain or what, but they would just be all over the kitchen, the cupboard, just teeming with ants. And for the last two years they haven't come in. I don't know what happened.