Interview: Kevin Nealon on TBS’ Funniest Commercials
When the Olympics are over the laughs begin. TBS is bringing back its annual special “World’s Funniest Commercials” on Tuesday, August 26th at 9pm hosted once again by funnyman Kevin Nealon.
Kevin Nealon is no stranger on what it takes to be funny with his background of nine seasons on Saturday Night Live, including the role of Weekend Update host, and countless appearances in Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison projects (Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, Zohan, & more). Most recently Kevin can be found on Showtime’s comedy “Weeds”, now in its fourth season.
I was beyond lucky with the chance to speak with Kevin about what we could look forward to in this year’s TBS “World’s Funniest Commercials” special. Read on to find out what it takes to make Mr. Subliminal himself laugh when it comes to commercials.
Hollywood Hills: This will be your fifth season of hosting TBS’ Funniest Commercials Special, is that right?
Kevin Nealon: Yes, I believe it is.
HWH: Are you seeing the commercials out do themselves each year or are they having a hard time topping previous years’ commercials?
Nealon: Not really. I think that this year’s special is probably the best one to date.
HWH: With your background as SNL’s ad exec “Mr Subliminal” you are obviously well qualified for this hosting job. So are they letting you pick any commercials for the show?
Nealon: I haven’t really picked too many, but if I see one that’s really funny I will call them and let them know and see if they agree with me. Last time I found the Trunk Monkey.
HWH: Tivo & DVRs are obviously posing a challenge to commercials. What do you think makes for a great commercial that will get viewers to stop and watch?
Nealon: There are different schools of thought on that. A lot of commercials people stop to watch because they are funny, but they’re not really memorable for the product. I personally like the funny commercials. It doesn’t remember to me if I remember the name, just that it was a funny little story that was in 30 or 60 seconds. The world today has such a short attention span that you can just watch the show and a couple of commercials and be entertained.
HWH: Any favorite or least favorite commercials come to mind?
Nealon: There is one that I particularly like that’s called “Walk of Shame” for a beverage that shows all these people doing the walk of shame in the morning after a night of debauchery. They’re walking home dishelved and join up in the street singing. It’s pretty funny, you’ve gotta see it.
HWH: In past seasons a lot of the funniest commercials have been European born. Do you think they have an easier time making funny commercials because of what they can get away with without the FCC restrictions?
Nealon: Yeah, I think the parameters are a little more extended for them so they can get away with more. I think I’ve seen quite a revoluation in American commercials as far as being more risque in the last couple of years and the viewers will see that on this special too.
[In the TBS special] there are also some US commercials made by European companies. One commercial, maybe from Sweden, has a son ask his father where he comes from. So the father takes him for a car ride and tells him about the birds and the bees, then at the end the boy says, “Wow. My friend Frank just comes from Poland.” They’re pretty clever.
HWH: Any of your SNL commercials that you think would be contenders for the next TBS Funniest Commercials special?
Nealon: It’s funny because it’s like those commercials now are almost legitimate commercials. I remember when Chevy Chase wrote a commercial for a razor blade that had four or five blades in it. The first blade would pull it out, the second blade would cut it, the third would cut it more, and so on.
There’s another commercial that Al Franken wrote called “Colon Blow” for bran that really cleans you out. Commercials now are such proponents of bran in your diet that things are catching up.
HWH: Besides your history with SNL’s mock commercials, have you had much involvement in making commercials or do you prefer to be on the receiving side?
Nealon: I must have done about a half dozen commercials, mostly light beer commercials. Coors Silver Bullet, Budweiser, and I did a Nabisco commercial which was pulled off the air after about two weeks because they found copper dust particles in the product. It was my first commercial so I was very excited and then that happened.
HWH: If you were making a commercial selling Kevin Nealon action figures, how would you pitch it?
Nealon: Well it’d have to be in cereal boxes and maybe some different soy products.
HWH: Along with your TBS Funniest Commercials special coming up you’ve got your character on Showtime’s “Weeds”, now in its fourth season. I just heard it would be renewed for two more seasons. Can we expect to see you back for the rest of the series?
Nealon: I hope so, but you can’t really know until the season is about to begin.
HWH: Any Happy Madison projects in the future? I’d love to see you team back up with your SNL pals again.
Nealon: I just did “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” so I’m up to speed now. I think [Sandler] is off doing another one now. He kinda keeps me in that loop.
HWH: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today about TBS’ World’s Funniest Commercials.
Nealon: It was great talking with you.
“World’s Funniest Commercials” on TBS airs Tuesday, August 26th at 9pm.Did You Enjoy this Post? Subscribe to Hollywood Hills on Facebook, Twitter, & Email