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Kevin Nealon sizes up a shot, perhaps ready to "pump you up"
Kevin Nealon sizes up a shot, perhaps ready to "pump you up" (GolfPublisher.com)

SNL's Kevin Nealon talks straight, even if he doesn't hit it that way

Chris BaldwinBy Chris Baldwin,

STATELINE, Nev. - Kevin Nealon's golf game isn't good, and that's not news to him.

The Saturday Night Live alum who punctuated his Weekend Update reports with "That's news to me" and did his best to "pump you up" as over-muscled bodybuilder Franz (a hilarious precursor to today's steroid-addled athletes) tells it straight.

Even if he doesn't always hit it that way.

Nealon is a semi-regular in the celebrity golf world. TravelGolf.com caught up to him in Lake Tahoe, competing in a field that included comedians Ray Romano, Anthony Anderson and
John O'Hurley
(J. Peterman from Seinfeld).

Romano is so golf-obsessed HBO did a documentary about how crazed he got at Pebble Beach; his comedy colleague is decidedly more relaxed. At a celebrity auction, Nealon did shtick for the crowd, coming out on a Lance Armstrong bike sans pedals and claiming to have ridden it all the way around Lake Tahoe.

Even up on the stage, piloting a pedal-less bike in his black dress pants, Nealon comes across as more of an average guy with an interesting job than some manic comic.

He seems almost cast against type as a pot-smoking politician in Showtime's quirky Weeds. Nealon is about the last comedian you'd expect to be perpetually high, but he plays the role well.

Whether he's performing or answering questions, there's a bit more to Nealon beneath the placid surface than you might expect. He will not pretend that comedians are athletes or forget Dan Quayle's dis' of Murphy Brown. Here's Kevin Nealon unplugged.

Q: How seriously do you take this out here?

A: Not seriously at all. I've had a lot of fun. There's a certain amount of competitiveness you try and put out there, but after the second or third hole you realize that you're not fooling anyone and you have to make a decision to have fun.

Q: Do you feel pressure out there to make jokes for the crowd and keep everyone entertained?

A: Nah. I feel pressure just to finish walking 18 holes.

Q: When did you first really start getting into golf?

A: I never have gotten into golf. That's the problem. If I got into I'd probably be playing better. ... I started playing more about 10 years ago.

Q: Being used to performing in front of a crowd - Saturday Night Live and standup - does that help at all out here?

A: Yeah, it does. The first time I played here was tough, though, because you're not used to hitting the ball in front of people and you're self-conscious about your swing and all that.

But a friend of mine had a good suggestion. He said, 'You know what? If you hit the ball great, they love ya. If you hit the ball bad, they love ya still because they know they can hit better than you.'

Q: Do you follow golf? Are you a big sports fan?

A: No, no. I watch once in a while. If there's no wrestling or Home Shopping Network available.

Q: What's the best part of celebrity tournaments like this for you?

A: The best part for me is coming up to Lake Tahoe - it's so beautiful. And golfing with all these guys I've been golfing with for last eight years or so. It's become almost like a community. They actually talk to me now.

Q: It seems like more and more comedians are getting into golf. What do you think has brought that about?

A: It's a sport where they can have fun. They don't have to be that athletic. Most comics aren't that athletic. So that's probably why they do it.

Q: Is there anyone here that you wanted to meet or play with?

A: Not really. I've kind of met everybody here. It'd be nice to say hi to Lance Burton. But his schedule's so busy ... I mean Lance Armstrong. Though I hear Lance Burton is a hell of a magician, illusionist or whatever the heck he is.

Lance Burton ... shows you the kind of crowd I'm hanging with. Bet Lance Armstrong doesn't get that too often.

Q: Would your character in Weeds be a good golfer?

A: He'd be a relaxed golfer. Good ... no. But the cart people would probably make a fortune with his munchies. He really is a role model for the youth. Dan Quayle told me on the range that he's one of his favorite characters on TV.

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Kevin

    mike wrote on: May 14, 2007

    Seems like Kevin is enjoying life and loves to hang out and play golf.