Monday, March 14, 2011

Raw Nerve Recap: Kevin Nealon

Due to some technical difficulties with iTunes, I was unable to see last week's Ed Asner episode.  Don't worry, when I get those issues sorted out I'll come back for a recap.  Until then, I thought I would jump back to an episode I missed on the first go 'round.  

At first glance, an interview with Kevin Nealon seems to be scraping the bottom of the Who Cares? barrel (of course, that's nothing new for Raw Nerve--Marilu Henner?), but it turns out that the Nealon episode is a perfect companion piece to the Carl Reiner segment from a few weeks back.

Nealon comes from that period of the late 80s-early 90s Saturday Night Live that I personally devoured.  To me, Kevin Nealon is THE Weekend Update Anchor.  He never quite reached the level of Dana Carvey or Phil Hartman love, but at the time, I couldn't imagine SNL without him.  And when Norm McDonald took the anchor's seat I remember being more than a little distressed.  And I soon stopped watching.  That's right, no Nealon, no Saturday Night Live.  

And then there's Showtimes' WEEDS.

Anywho...Nealon's Raw Nerve starts off a little dullsville.  It's mostly sports this, sports that.  Football injury blah blah, basketball injury yadda yadda (can you tell yet that I'm a dork who knows nothing or cares nothing for sports???  I run a Shatner themed blog afterall).  But as Shatner starts to delve into Nealon's Catholic upbringing we are led down another faith/God/religion conversation similar to, but from an almost completely different point of view than the Carl Reiner episode.  

At one point Nealon stutters and ums, "It’s hard for me to involved with organized religion at this point…I think religion is very important to people, I think you really do have to have faith in something…there’s no answers to most...a lot of things that are upsetting… I'd like to find a religion that’s not so regimented as the Catholic Church…it’s hard to look at a priest now without thinking what has this guy done?"

Nealon:  "I pray."
Shatner:  "To Whom?"
Nealon:  "To God."
Shatner:  "You said the word."
Nealon:  "Oh yeah, I don't mind saying it."

Again, this is why I love Raw Nerve.  It's these incredibly short, sometimes awkward exchanges about deeply personal, philosophical and religious ideas that are often just left hanging in the air.  Nothing's really resolved, it's just there leaving the viewer to nod or shake their head.  Just a taste of the personality.

After Catholicism and God, Shatner moved the conversation over to comedy.  As he's done before with other comedians on the show, Shatner states, "I stand in awe of the stand-up comic."  And Nealon takes the opportunity to complement the comic styling of his interviewer, "One of the funniest Saturday Night Lives was the one you hosted when I was on…that was the first time I think people saw you, or at least we saw you do comedy."

"Get A Life!!!"

And that conversation led to the tragic death of Phil Hartman.  Nealon didn't dwell on the tabloid horror; he just took the oprotunity to say some nice things about his SNL stalwart, "...they called him the glue because he did such great characters...he was a renaissance man...he'd be into painting.  Another day he’d have his guitar there with an amp learning blues…another day an airplane manual."  He mentions that he was in an airport when he learned of his death, obviously how upsetting the circumstances were.  

And before you know it, the credits are rolling and Kevin Nealon is telling a joke about a crotch sniffing bomb disposal dog.  Oh, Raw Nerve, how I love your tonal jumps!

So, all in all, another excellent episode of Raw Nerve.  Hopefully, I'll get my iTunes squared away so I can watch the Ed Asner episode, plus we've got that very special Walter Koenig sans toupee show coming up.  Can't miss that.

Bonus Video:
Shatner Takes Us Behind The Scenes of SNL


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