Jon Lovitz on Going to UCI and Learning to Do Stand-up From Scratch

Jon Lovitz is the kind of comedian who can make a cameo in any movie or T.V. episode and deliver an aura of raunchiness and well-timed wit that's too quirky to turn away from. If the shirt in this photo isn't enough of an indication, one only has to scope out the film resume of the former SNL funny man to recognize his ability to elevate the role of the bit part actor to new heights of hilarity. Over 20 plus years, he's been in everything from 1988's Tom Hanks classic “Big” to just about every flick Adam Sandler has ever directed.

We'd like to think the comedy gods chose to shine on Lovitz for doing his time in our backyard as a student at UC Irvine back in the mid-70s. Even at age 54,  when it comes to acting jobs, he snaps work like a true anteater.  Ahead of his Irvine pit-stop at the Irvine Improv on Friday and Saturday, Lovitz talked to us about returning to OC, his roots in stand-up, his current plethora of new projects and his ability to make female reporters cry (from laughter) every now and then.

OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): As a Jew I first of all need to thank you for your SNL character, Hanukkah Harry. But one of my favorite roles of yours was Fred on Las Vegas! I seriously had tears in my eyes when he was going to jump off of the Montecito.

Jon Lovitz: [Laughs.] Oh that's funny that I made you cry. That was a really fun show to do. James Caan I have known for a lot of years. I got to meet Josh Duhamel, James Lesure, and Vanessa Marcil. Molly Simms I had met before. It was fun. I wanted them to make me the owner of the hotel, I was hoping.

So you're pretty familiar with Orange County because of college right?

Yeah! I went to UC Irvine from 1975 to 1979. I was a drama major there
and I had a great time. I did 21 plays and I lived in the dorms for a
couple of years and then I lived in Newport on the peninsula for two

You've basically touched on every area of entertainment, do you have a favorite?

Not really, I like doing it all. Like the movie I'm in, Casino Jack,
was a lot of fun because Kevin Spacey and George Hickenlooper where
great to work with. I had to learn to do stand-up but it's great when
the audience is really into it and going back and forth. It's a blast.
Live television like Saturday Night Live is really exciting. Live TV is
the most exciting.

Any chance that you'll do SNL again?

 Not that I know of. I don't know, they'd have to want me and ask me.

What are you working on now?

I just did a pilot called “Mr. Box Office” for Byron Allen and everyone
on there is so talented and funny. I'm pretty sure it'll get picked up
but I don't know for sure yet. Adam Sandler is doing a cartoon called,
“Hotel Transylvania,” and I play a chef named “Quasimodo.” It's a very
clever cartoon and it looks terrific. I also did a movie in Fiji called,
“Status Quo.” Status Quo is one of the biggest rock bands in Europe,
they've sold like 118 million albums and they're really huge over there.
That was a lot of fun. 

Well then, for your homecoming to Irvine, what can the audience look forward to? Will you be doing any singing?

Actually when I started doing stand-up, Irvine was the first club I
played. It's a lot of fun. I play the piano, I sing funny songs, make
fun of myself, make fun of sex, politics, religion, racism, gay,
straight, and celebrities. Just kind of everything that's going on.
Stuff I have opinions about. It's really more of my personal sense of
humor and how I feel about certain things in the world. I really enjoy
it and it's fun! It's pretty silly.

Jon Lovitz ( @RealJonLovitz ) performs at the Irvine Improv this Friday and Saturday (June 8th and 9th),  71 Fortune Drive, Irvine; (949) 854-5455, . 9 p.m. $30. 21+.

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