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Kevin Nealon happy in low-key roles


    Kevin Nealon poses for photos outside the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif., last year. Kevin Nealon is no egomaniac. He doesn’t thirst to be the lead on a TV show. He isn’t looking to sell out arenas.

ATLANTA >> Kevin Nealon is no egomaniac. He doesn’t thirst to be the lead on a TV show. He isn’t looking to sell out arenas.

He’s happy playing a secondary role on a Matt LeBlanc CBS sitcom “Man With a Plan.” Every month or so, he tapes a web series where he interviews celebrities while hiking. And he does about 50 to 60 stand-up dates a year.

Nealon, who is best known for his time on “Saturday Night Live” and the Showtime series “Weeds,” said playing LeBlanc’s dim-witted brother on “Man With a Plan” is “no pressure on me at all. It’s pretty easy. That’s good for me. I don’t need to carry a show.”

The hours are good, he added, and it keeps him near home.

And since he already walks trails for exercise, he began asking his friends and colleagues to join him with a selfie stick and hike around parks in Los Angeles. Called “Hiking With Kevin,” it’s basically a no-budget YouTube version of Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

It has no sponsors and production values are comically nonexistent.

“People are so critical,” he mused. “Clean your lens! There’s a guy at management who says the charm of the show is it’s so raw. He laughs at my edits. I really like to cross dissolve everything.”

Nealon is happy to say most celebrities he asks say yes.

“But there’s a good percentage who say yes, then disappear,” he added.

He goes in with no game plan whatsoever.

“I just like to ask random crazy questions,” Nealon said.

To actress Bella Thorne, he inquires about birth control. He asks fellow comic Chelsea Handler to gaze into his eyes, which she finds deeply uncomfortable. To talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, “are you a bathrobe type of guy?” And Caitlyn Jenner? “Did you get rid of your Bruce clothes?”

The most popular “Hiking With Kevin” so far is Nealon joking around with TV talk show host and former “SNL” writer Conan O’Brien, which has almost 300,000 views.

“It’s not surprising,” Nealon said. “He has a social media machine with Team Coco.”

They’ve known each other for decades and just bust each other’s chops.

“You seem to have a lot of hate for people” is how Nealon opened this segment. “We in court now?” O’Brien shoots back.

And he tries to come up with cool headlines to draw hits. His popular Owen Wilson video, for instance, features the headline “Owen Wilson Fears a Mob Hit.”

Nealon, 64, thinks people open up during the hike more so than they do, say, during a talk show appearance.

“I think walking creates endorphins which get them talking more and expressing themselves better,” he said. “Maybe there’s something about not having eye contact. They don’t feel so guarded.”

When people type “Kevin Nealon” into Google, the most common questions asked are about his wife (Susan Yeagley), his height (6 foot 4) and his net worth. A website specializing on the topic estimates his worth to be $8.5 million. Is that right? “I don’t even know my net worth,” he admitted. “I don’t keep track. Whatever they say, just double it!”

Recently, he took part in an HBO four-and-a-half-hour documentary about Garry Shandling created by Judd Apatow. If someone did a biography about Nealon, he said there is no way it could possibly last that long.

“I don’t keep journals” the way Shandling did, he said. “There’d be nothing to work off of. I save old answering machine messages and postcards. You’d have to dig through my storage unit in El Segundo and find my old answering machine.”

Surprisingly, he said the biggest highlight of his career in such a documentary would not be his time on “SNL” or “Weeds.” Rather, it was his first appearance on “The Tonight Show” featuring Johnny Carson in the 1980s.

“It was definitely a goal I was seeking and I accomplished it,” he said.

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