March 3, 1958|
Nelson specializes in rubber-faced comedy characters, much as Red Skelton did in his heyday. His most popular originals include Jiffy Jeff, a punch drunk prizefighter with a Gym in NYC; Eppy Epperman, a brilliant but nerdy kid with deeper insights than meet the eye; an entire football team of stereotypical characters and unnamed football stars doing a charity commercial; Wilby Stuckerson, a hillbilly chicken farmer based on a life experience of Nelson's from Shreveport, Louisiana, and Mr. Pingyeh, an argumentative Asian man who is more eloquent than the people with whom he argues. He is also known for his Jacques-Yves Cousteau impersonations and his "football act" in which he parodies the old team rundowns in the College Football All-Star games, in which players announce their names, numbers and teams (example: "Quasimodo... Notre Dame... halfback!")
Nelson was Rodney Dangerfield's opening act for eight years and was featured in two of Rodney's HBO stand-up comedy showcases, alongside Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, Rita Rudner and Bob Saget. That led to two HBO specials starring Nelson, including "Nelson Schmelson". He considers Rodney his 'Comedy Godfather'. Nelson was also in a comedy group called "The Identical Triplets" with Eddie Murphy and Rob Bartlett.
Nelson has appeared several times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and various other talk shows, such as David Letterman, Regis Philbin, and Merv Griffin and appeared on tour with Gallagher during 2016-17.
While he formerly incorporated profanity into his act, Nelson now works clean. He cites a meeting with Red Skelton, in which Skelton convinced him to stop using swear words. Since that meeting, Nelson claims he hasn't sworn while performing.
Nelson had performed and shared at "Come Thirsty", a series of church seminars by Max Lucado and Michael W. Smith. He was featured on 'Life Today' with James & Betty Robinson. He is also currently being seen regularly on "Bananas Comedy", which is a very popular family-friendly television comedy show that airs throughout the US and Canada.
In 2008 Nelson relocated his family and his show to Branson, Missouri to take a break from the road, where he performed locally for three years. In 2013, Nelson and family returned to Long Island.
Nelson won an Emmy Award in Philadelphia for a children's show he wrote and starred in, called Double Muppet Hold the Onions, in 1983. He also had supporting roles in Nora Ephron's directorial film debut This is My Life with Julie Kavner and Ivan Reitman's Kindergarten Cop with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also starred in the film Brain Donors, the 1992 update of the Marx Brothers' comedy A Night at the Opera. In the latter film, Nelson plays what would have been the Harpo Marx part.