Kevin Nealon is best known as a sketch comedian on "Saturday Night Live" and as a comic actor on "Weeds." But that whole part of a career was kind of a detour.
"Stand-up is what I started doing," Nealon said in a phone interview from his home in the Los Angeles area. "It's all I ever wanted to do."
He joined "SNL" at a time when the cast was exceptionally heavy on stand-up comics.
"There were actually four stand-ups who joined the cast at that time -- Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller, Victoria Jackson and me."
The cast was much smaller then, he said, so almost half the cast were stand-up comedians. Usually, sketch comics make up the bulk of the cast.
Stand-up comedy is still his first love, and Nealon will bring his stand-up to Sarasota this weekend, for four shows on Friday and Saturday at McCurdy's Comedy Theatre.
Nealon was hired as a writer and an occasional performer on "SNL," but became one of the most popular cast members during his nine-year run from 1988 to 1995. Still, he considered himself a stand-up comedian.
"When I came out to California, one of the owners of the Improv said 'Have you ever thought of acting? We get casting directors in here all the time.' "
Nealon had done a few small movie and TV acting roles, and he decided to take some acting classes. Eventually he was given the script for the pilot episode of "Weeds."
"I looked at the title and I said, 'Oh, great, just what we need, another stoner comedy,' " he said.
But once he read the script he was ready to sign on. He was just supposed to be in the pilot, but his character Doug Wilson ended up being a central part of the show for all eight seasons (2005-2012). He and Ellen DeGeneres have been co-producing a web series for AOL called "Laugh Lessons With Kevin Nealon." Each episode has a different professional comedian -- such stars as Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler -- trying to teach little kids the art of comedy.
One of the things that's keeping him busiest these days is a pilot of a sitcom Nealon is writing for NBC. It's tentatively title "Stays in Vegas" and it's about divorced couple who work together in a pub they own just off the strip in Las Vegas. Nealon is writing it with his wife, actress Susan Yeagley.
He said they're writing all day every day -- writing on planes and in restaurants and anywhere else they can. So he's looking forward getting back on stage at the new McCurdy's.
"I've never played the new club, but I played at the old one,' he said. "I love Sarasota. A lot of my family is from Fort Myers so they'll all be coming up to see me."
Details: Nov. 21-22, McCurdy's Comedy Theatre, 1923 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. Show times 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday Tickets: $40. Information: 941-925-3869, mccurdyscomedy.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.