Jon Lovitz's standup career only began in earnest nine years ago, long after his popular stint on "Saturday Night Live," when he says the movie roles "started drying up" and his talent managers slapped down a cold, crushing reality check.
"I told 'em, 'I'm not poor, but I'm going to run out of money in five years.' And both my managers said, 'Why don't you sell your house?' " recalls Lovitz, speaking en route to tennis practice near his home in California, where he plays several times a week. "And I was so angry, because one [manager] was building a mansion, and one was moving into one, and I'm like, 'Screw these guys, I'm going to learn how to be a standup, and then fire both of them.' "
Lovitz, who indeed canned his managers, has led what he describes as a "semi-successful and forced" career on the standup circuit ever since, and it's one he has embraced thanks to no small measure of mentorship from "SNL" alums Dana Carvey and Dennis Miller. Last year, his agent asked him to tour with fellow "SNL" veterans Chris Kattan and Tim Meadows, and the resulting three-act bill, "Stars of SNL," will be presented Thursday at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts.
An avid tennis nut (he watched "every bit" of the Australian Open), Lovitz, who trains with 1959 Wimbledon champion Alex Olmedo, detours to South Florida only to serve-and-volley with Alan Thicke and others in Chris Evert's annual Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic in Boca Raton.
"Chris Evert says she gets worse every year, and I say I get better. But I tell her, 'Well, Chris, you reached your peak potential," says the 55-year-old comic, whose standup is largely inspired by his college heroes Woody Allen and Lenny Bruce. "I can't even beat my 76-year-old trainer. It's like a student trying to beat up an aging Bruce Lee. I'm not delusional."
Lovitz starred in "The Critic" in the mid-1990s, when he portrayed an incorrigible and short-tempered TV film critic. But he's best known for a slew of sad-sack roles on "SNL," Tommy Flanagan, the Pathological Liar" among them.
And Lovitz is on television again, portraying a talent agent to a disgraced celebrity, played by Bill Bellamy, on the CW syndicated series "Mr. Box Office." The show airs Saturday nights.
"My character is so extreme," Lovitz says, laughing. "We shoot it in two days, which is almost like doing a movie and a sitcom at the same time. It's weird, but it's fun."
The Stars of "SNL" tour, featuring Jon Lovitz, Chris Kattan and Tim Meadows, will take place 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Drive. Tickets cost $45. Call 954-344-5999 or go to CoralSpringsCenterfortheArts.com.