Photo: Mohegan Sun / Contributed Photo
Evoking memories of late-night comedy sketches but relying on new humor, the live show “Veterans of SNL: Jon Lovitz, Darrell Hammond, Chris Kattan & Finesse Mitchell” offers stand-up comedy at Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday, July 28.
Lovitz’s most famous “SNL” character was Tommy Flanagan of Pathological Liars Anonymous (“Yeah, that’s the ticket.”), but he’s also known for his voice work that includes Jay Sherman in the animated series “The Critic” on Fox. He was on “Saturday Night Live” from 1995-2000; the others joined the show later.
Lovitz is known for that distinctive voice, which sounds like a cross between a 1930s radio news announcer and a New York street urchin. His characters’ names in various movies and shows include Mole on “Foley Square,” Morty in “Three Amigos!,” Gary Fogel on “Seinfeld,” Peeper in “Little Nicky,” Randy Pear in “Rat Race” and Artie Ziff on “The Simpsons.”
Lovitz remembers when the movie roles slowed up and he asked his agent if he could find him work. “I said I’m gonna run out of money in five years…’ He said, ‘Why don’t you sell your house?’ I said, ‘Sell my house?’ So I realized they had just given up, so I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to go back to being broke so I better learn something new. So I’ll do standup… It was hard, it was like starting over.”
He talks about the heart-pounding and legs feeling like lead when he was about to go on, but Dana Carvey told him to just keep doing it. “And now I just love it.”
Lovitz, who played a previous Mohegan Sun show with Bob Saget, found himself in a social-media give-and-take the other day over Scarlett Johansson’s recent casting as a transgender man in an upcoming film. (She ended up pulling out of the film the day we chatted.)
“I worked with Scarlett when she was 8 years old… I run into her over the years and I just think anyone (has) the right to play anyone they want. And they (on social media) go, ‘Well, it’s not right’ and I go, ‘Well, it’s acting.’ … Everyone’s into labeling everybody, and I kind of make fun of that in my act — the words you can’t say. And I play the piano and I sing funny songs and I tell jokes. But it’s more me.”
In other words, Lovitz, 60, doesn’t do his characters from “SNL” in the act, which he calls “smart and silly, a combo of like clever and ridiculously immature.” (Son of a doctor who loved opera, Lovitz actually sings well, albeit “ridiculous” words inserted for fun.)
“I tried doing my characters 14 years ago and it didn’t work. So I said, ‘Well, now what am I going to do? So I guess I’ll just talk and be me, talk about how I really think and feel. And the weird thing is the more honest I am, the more they laugh. Sometimes I’m not even trying to be funny and they’re laughing.”
Mohegan Sun Arena, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville. Saturday, July 28, 8 p.m. $39-$29. 800.745.3000. Ticketmaster.com
In college at the University of California Irvine, he was a drama major but he lived in the fine-arts dorm where he would do Woody Allen and Lenny Bruce’s routines.
So he thought about standup back then but a workshop instructor said, “They’re not hiring standups for sitcoms,” Lovitz remembers. “And I believed him. You know, they weren’t hiring him.”
Lovitz will do political jokes,but about anyone, from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders. But what about touchy partisans?
“There’s like a big social upheaval right now,” Lovitz said. |”That’s what it feels like to me now. Like when the hippies came in the ’60s and it was like, ‘What’s going on? What the hell is this?’ And so I talk about that. And I know it’s valid but I don’t understand it.”
He interrupts himself to say his dog Jerry is trying to talk. “If you look (online), you’ll see pictures of me and my dog… He’s been in movies; (and then in that Jon Lovitz voice) he’s got some credits.”
Jamarante@nhregister.com; @Joeammo on Twitter