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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Knee surgery won’t prevent Kevin Nealon from performing at the Spokane Comedy Club

Former “Saturday Night Live” star Kevin Nealon, fresh off of knee surgery, will bring his comedy act to the Spokane Comedy Club this weekend.  (Courtesy photo)
By Edward Condran For The Spokesman-Review

Kevin Nealon was walking the picket line in Hollywood and stages around the country delivering stand-up until he had knee replacement surgery a month ago.

“I’ve been recovering here and I can’t wait to get back to performing,” Nealon said while calling from his Los Angeles home. “My first shows post-knee surgery are in Spokane.”

The “Saturday Night Live” alum will deliver material inspired by stress levels, confrontation and optimism. It would be fascinating, however, if Nealon, 69, would riff about life on the picket line.

“It’s been interesting,” Nealon said. “We’ve had a ‘Glee’ day in which the cast from ‘Glee’ came out to sing songs. One day the band Imagine Dragons came by and performed from a park bench. We even had a singles day for those that are single so they can meet people.”

Nealon, who walks the picket line with his wife, actress Susan Yeagley, has found old friends on the picket line.

“I’ve reconnected with people I haven’t seen in years,” Nealon said. “We’re uniting together for fairness.”

It’s been a busy time for Nealon, who has plenty to focus on while on strike.

“Things changed for me since I turned 60,” Nealon said. “I had a coming-to-God moment. I said to myself when I turned 60, ‘Enough already! Rehearsals are over! It’s time to do all of the things you talked about doing all of these years!’ ”

Nealon is taking Spanish classes twice a week via Zoom with a language professor based in Mexico City. Nealon is learning piano and becoming more proficient on the banjo and guitar, and he’s painting.

In 2022, he published “I Exaggerate: My Brushes with Fame,” a book of illustrations and anecdotes by Nealon.

“I enjoy painting these caricatures and so I turned the paintings into a book,” Nealon said. “There’s a painting paired with a story about something I had with each subject.”

Nealon’s pals gave him the thumbs up to present the paintings on a chat show tour.

“I asked everyone from Steve Martin to Jim Carrey if it would be OK if I brought my work on to Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon and they were fine with it,” Nealon said. “It was fun hearing what the friends I painted thought. Matt LeBlanc’s response when he saw the painting cracked me up. He said, ‘Thanks, I guess.’ ”

Nealon remains focused on his amusing YouTube series, “Hiking with Kevin” which is in its fourth season.

“I’ve had so much fun with that project,” Nealon said. “I can’t wait to be well enough to get back to hiking”

A who’s who of Hollywood have hiked with Nealon, who has interviewed Adam Sandler, Rosanna Arquette and Lin-Manuel Miranda while walking in L.A. A favorite of Nealon’s is his longtime friend Conan O’Brien.

“I love going on hikes with Conan since we’ve known each other for 30 years going back to our days on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ We dig at each other. It’s fun. I had a lot of fun on a hike with Caitlyn Jenner. I asked Caitlyn, ‘If you can change one thing about yourself what would it be?’ ”

Even with Nealon’s bad knees, he had no trouble keeping up with Jenner, who won multiple gold medals as a track star.

“She was wearing high heels, which made it easy for me to stay with her,” Nealon said.

Nealon is a surprisingly strong interviewer. Perhaps his experience as a guest on so many of the chat shows is the reason he asks thoughtful questions.

“I think that has something to do with it,” Nealon said. “I’ve done practically every talk show that ever existed going back to Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin.”

Nealon developed the concept in organic fashion.

“I was hiking with my friend Matthew Modine, who is an actor,” Nealon said. “He was in ‘Full Metal Jacket.’ I like to hike in the canyons in Los Angeles. One day Matthew and I were both out of breath hiking in L.A. while we were on a challenging hike. I thought it would be funny doing an interview while being out of breath.”

Nealon enjoys hiking prior to shows when performing in Spokane. Fans won’t see him on trails this time out.

“I just got rid of my cane and I’m taking it easy this time out,” Nealon said. “The next time I come to Spokane I’ll take advantage of the outdoors.”