The actor and comedian has flip-flopped the usual progression as he shows off his skills as a stand-up comic at the Blaisdell
HE'S PARTIED WITH Mick Jagger and David Bowie, played tennis with Chris Evert and will share the silver screen with Reggie Jackson later this year. Two decades have passed since Jon Lovitz got his start on "Saturday Night Live," and the 48-year-old actor is going strong. He currently has a cameo in the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical "The Producers," and will co-star in the upcoming Adam Sandler-directed film "The Benchwarmers."
LAUGH IT UP
Featuring Jon Lovitz and Friends:
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Tickets: $29 to $39
Call: (877) 750-4400
On the Web: http://www.laugh-factoryhawaii.com
Lovitz spoke with the Star-Bulletin by phone from Los Angeles on Monday, just two days removed from an epic New Year's Eve shindig at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion. In town this weekend to do stand-up, he spoke excitedly about the new skill he's been working on every Wednesday at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood.
QUESTION: HOW DID you get into stand-up comedy?
Answer: Stand-up is so much fun, I really enjoy it. It's hard to come up with material, but actually doing it is really fun.
I started out hosting shows. I would do five minutes and then bring out, say, Kevin Nealon or Victoria Jackson or Norm MacDonald. And then I'd do 10 minutes. If you've ever done stand-up, 10 minutes is a long time.
Q: Isn't the process usually that stand-up comics make the jump to film, not the other way around?
A: I'd always wanted to do it. I used to do Lenny Bruce routines in my college dorm.
After college, I went to (the University of California at) Irvine and I was going to do stand-up. But there was this guy teaching a workshop for free who said, "If you're going to do stand-up to get on a sitcom, forget about it."
And then years later, I realized they weren't hiring him. I actually mentioned it to Jay Leno about a year ago, and he said the guy's name right away. He remembered the guy!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your next film, "The Benchwarmers."
A: That stars Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Heder from "Napoleon Dynamite." Adam Sandler produced it. It's about the three of them playing in a baseball tournament against little leaguers that I sponsor. I say it's for the benchwarmers, the kids who sit on the bench while the other kids have all the fun.
So I go, "It's you three guys against all the mean-spirited teens in the state, and whoever wins, I'll build them a huge stadium."
And Reggie Jackson is in it.
How important was your tenure on "Saturday Night Live" from 1985 to 1990?
A: I have a career because of it. I was there five years, and every week, you'd be doing scenes with the best actors in the country. There's no other job like it.
Live television is the most amazing thing. You're on a stage and there's an audience there, yet you're performing to a camera. When it's live, you have one shot to do every sketch, every joke. It's like a race, and you go all out on every sketch.
Movies are satisfying, too, but they're just different. They're very different.
Q: Are you proud of the fact that you have a DVD dedicated to your sketches from the show?
A: I was thrilled. I asked (creator) Lorne Michaels if he would do it, because I said it would really mean a lot to me. It's an honor, but I felt I did well enough and I should have one.
I mean, come on! But he was nice enough to say yes.
Q: You replaced one of your best friends, Phil Hartman, on the television show "Newsradio" after his murder. What was that like?
A: He was like my older brother. We were very, very close. The cast was nice and everything, but everyone was grieving. It was a very difficult time.
I was very conflicted about it. ... I felt like I was taking advantage of my friend's death. But then the guy who created the show told me he wanted me to do it.
Looking back, if I knew everything, I wouldn't have done it. Also, they didn't write me a role. It was a joke.
Q: You've been spotted on the tennis court and golf links here in Hawaii. Which sport are you better at?
A: Tennis. A million percent better. I say I'm good for an amateur. I've been playing since I was eight.
Q: Is that really your profile on MySpace.com?
A: Yes, that's really me. It's so huge! When I joined in August, I think there were 24 million people. Now there's 45 million. I think eventually, the whole world will be on MySpace. In another year, it'll be 90 million people.
Q: Anything else about this weekend you want people to know about?
A: As far as the show, first is Joe Koi. He's one of the top comedians in the country, and I hope people come on time. He just got "The Tonight Show" ... and they rarely have stand-up comics on anymore. So it's like a real chance to see a guy who, four days later, the whole country is going to know who he is. He's hilarious.
For me, I'm not doing sketches and characters. It's all new stuff. It's an adult-themed show ... and then I have a big tribute to Bob Saget, which is ridiculous. I play the piano and sing songs! If you've ever seen me on "(Late Night with) Conan O'Brien" or the other talk shows, it's more like that. But my main goal is just to be funny.