Dana Carvey: The superstar who couldn't care less about stardom
But Saturday Night Live alum and master impressionist Dana Carvey makes few apologies for a showbiz break that saw him take a little time for his family that stretched into more than five years away from movies and TV.
He’s back June 14 with an HBO stand-up special Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies (watch the show to get it), at 10 p.m. Click here to hear him run through a litany of political impressions, including Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain and, of course, George W. Bush.
Here’s his take on The Feed’s stupid questions:
So, where have you been?
Carvey: “Every celebrity in the world says family first and then they’re gone 10 months in a year. But I was making a nice comfortable living doing stand-up and making my own schedule and hanging with my kids. Once you get enough fixed income, its all fun and games. Unless you’re really, really tortured if you’re not mobbed in an airport.”
I hear one of your first jobs was as a room service waiter at a Holiday Inn?
“The Jackson Five stayed for a week…Michael, I’d always bring him a plate of carrots and he’d always be in a chair looking at himself in the mirror. I remember saying you could do a little something there, pointing at his chin. I felt guilty for years (laughs).”
My favorite HBO joke is when you say the only thing worse than Barack Hussein Obama running for president would be a guy named Charles Manson Hitler.
“I had other ones. Jack the Ripper for State Senator. (adopts announcer voice) ‘Jack the ripper cares about you.’ Or O.J. Scott Peterson — I was surprised that instantly got a laugh the first time I tried it onstage. ‘Paid for by the committee to elect O.J. Scott Peterson.’”
Doing impressions seems twice as hard as stand up comedy, because you have to nail the impression and be funny.
Sometimes just the impression will do half the work…but yeah, I never wanted lean on just doing impressions. There’s a fine line there between an impression and character. The Church Lady, for instance, was a combo of a lot of women I knew. Hanz and Franz was just ripping off Arnold Schwarzenegger and exagerrating it. Garth was just my brother brad, basically.”
You had an underappreciated prime time variety show, were offered a late night talk show…is it just that Hollywood doesn’t get you?
“Well, with the series, the critics eviscerated us on the first episode, because we had Clinton breast feeding the nation. But (SNL and Conan O’Brien writer) Robert Smigel and I, we had had Steve Carrell and Steve Colbert — you could say we discovered them, and you had Charlie Kaufman (writer, Being John Malkovich), who was always trying to write his screenplay...It was really an HBO show, and I think ABC sincerely thought they wanted that in prime time. But Disney bought ABC after we made the deal, so by the time it came up, it was a little it crazy for them. It’s the most eccentric variety show in the history of prime time, that’s for sure.”
What’s your strangest SNL backstage story?
“I remember sitting in my cubicle on dinner break, and there was a horse over to the side with a rope around his neck. Keith Richards was on the show, and he would have half gallons of Jack Daniels in his dressing room. He was kind of stumbling over, he doesn’t know that I can see him. He holds the horses head in his hands and says “look at you, you’re a f------- horse.’ It was an observation and it was poetic all at the same time.”