Kevin Nealon Remembers Jan Hooks at AOL Webseries Premiere Party

Kevin Nealon, Tiffany Shlain, Nicole Richie
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The stars of AOL’s webseries casually strolled the red carpet in the open interior courtyard of the Palihouse Thursday evening.

AOL celebrated the season premieres of five web shows, including “Laugh Lessons with Kevin Nealon,” “True Trans with Laura Jane Grace,” and Zoe Saldana’s “My Hero.” Nicole Richie’s “#Candidly Nicole” and Emmy-nominated “The Future Starts Here” with Tiffany Shlain kicked off the premieres of their second seasons.

Kevin Nealon credited Gary Shandling with the inspiration for the show. After Shandling tried to teach Nealon’s son the classic comic pratfall, Nealon took the idea of trying to teach kids comedy and how they can use it in their lives to Ellen DeGeneres and her production company. Each week, comedians including Adam Sandler, Sarah Silverman, Dana Carvey, Chelsea Handler and David Spade try to teach a few young children something about comedy.

Nealon said comedians were happy to work with the kids, as he pulled them into the taping while they were backstage at “The Ellen Show,” and that most were great with the kids, though not all.

“I could tell Chelsea Handler didn’t have kids,” Nealon joked. “But she taught sarcasm, which was cool. The kids picked up sarcasm pretty quickly.”

Nealon also talked about the passing of his SNL co-star Jan Hooks, who died Thursday. Nealon said the two were close friends and dated for a time, and that he’ll never forget her talent.

“I was so attracted to her talent,” Nealon said. “When I would watch her, I never saw anybody perform like she did. She was unmatched as a sketch player as far as I’m concerned. She was just an unbridled talent. And we were friends for a long time and … we laughed a lot. Today I was just thinking a lot about her, I was thinking just how much we laughed at the craziest and most odd things. That really comes to mind right now.”

“True Trans” follows Grace, who publicly came out as a transgender woman in 2012, as she travels on tour with her band Against Me! and speaks with other members of the transgender community about the different experiences in their lives. She hopes the show will help educate people and put an end to ignorance surrounding transgender identity conversations.

“I really hope people gain some knowledge from watching this show,” Grace said. “A lot of the problems with the way transgender people have been represented in the past just comes down to ignorance. With things like Laverne Cox being on the cover of Time Magazine, and a show like this, that means that (the younger generation) will have grown up seeing that, and that I think is where real difference is made.”

Richie’s show, inspired by her Twitter feed, details her adventures as she tries to meet new people and experience new things, including learning to spin signs on a street corner, the ins and outs of beekeeping, and a lesson on radio DJing from Ryan Seacrest. The most fun she had making this season was bringing a family member along for one of the episodes.

“I blindfolded my dad and threw him in a swarm of bees,” she said. As for how that turned out, “You’ll see.”

Filmmaker and Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain saw her series “The Future Starts Here” receive an Emmy nomination for news and documentary series this year, validating a project that’s unlike any other on AOL. Shlain explores a wide range of topics affecting people’s every day lives through her own unique style of filmmaking, with episodes including “Technology Shabbat” about her family’s weekly 24-hour break from technology and this season’s look at the neuroscience of dreaming and why people should spend more time daydreaming.

“When I really thought about, I’m so interested in so many subjects and (this show) allows me to do a deep dive into all of them,” Shlain said. “And I’m really interested at the past for context, and I want to look at today and in a really creative, entertaining and dynamic way help people process a lot of our issues today.”

“My Hero,” exec produced by Saldana, documents stars as they give “an over-the-top, heartfelt surprise” to a person that made a profound difference in their lives and helped change them for the better. The first episode will feature Saldana with her hero, her mother.

The decked out party included drinks inspired by each show, tablets with episodes downloaded for attendees to watch the debut episodes, a foosball table, photo booth, and an acoustic performance by Grace of her song “True Trans Soul Rebel.”

The shows have already begun their fall rollout on AOL.com, with “Laugh Lessons with Kevin Nealon” premiering on the site on Oct. 6 and “#Candidly Nicole” debuting on Oct. 9, and “True Trans with Laura Jane Grace” will hit the site Friday. “The Future Starts Here” will premiere Oct. 23, with “My Hero” joining it Oct. 25.

(Pictured: Kevin Nealon, Tiffany Shlain, Nicole Richie and Laura Jane Grace at the AOL Fall Premieres party)

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