You could call Hilarities 4th Street Theatre a comedy club, but owner Nick Kostis sees it as more than just a joke machine. "If laughter really is the best medicine, we operate a mental health clinic here," chuckles Kostis, whose venue marks its 30th anniversary this month. "Cleveland has always been a great comedy town and, outside of the East Coast, was one of the first cities to have a comedy club." To help celebrate, Kostis brings back Saturday Night Live alum and Weeds star Kevin Nealon, who says Hilarities fits his fans. "They're basically everyone across the board with a palate for every drink you'd find in a hotel mini bar," says the 61-year-old. In advance of his May 15 and 16 sets, we chat with the dry-witted Nealon.
On Starting Out in Stand-Up: I would drive to the Hollywood Improv and sit outside in my car. When I did sign up to perform for the first open mic night and they called my name, I didn't go up. Everyone looked for me, and I looked with them.
On Saturday Night Live: I was on with Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, Mike Myers and Jan Hooks, who was arguably one of the best comedic sketch actresses SNL ever had. The year before I came on, they had the lowest ratings in the history of the show. SNL is like a stock — it will go down at times, but it's worth holding on to.
On Cleveland: The last time I was there was during the winter a year ago when I was doing a spot for the Ellen [DeGeneres] Show. We were standing outside someone's house waiting to go in. I don't think I've ever been that cold in my life, even on my trips to Alaska.