Dana Carvey’s new hourlong HBO special, Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies, debuted last night, and within a few seconds, you most likely thought to yourself…Dana Carvey? Whatever happened to that guy, anyhow? The next hour attempts to answer that question. And the answer is…He’s still here, ready to entertain you with silly voices and impersonations. Seriously, though. It had been six years since his last movie, 2002’s The Master of Disguise, came and went, so keep this in mind while you’re watching Carvey onstage in Santa Rosa, Calif., where he filmed this set in March. He’s catching up with us, and catching us up on him.
In this sense, much of the hour shows us what we would have seen and heard him doing onstage over the past six years, which allows him to revisit Al Gore and delve into lengthier pieces on President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Ahnold (well, despite the hackiness of an Ahnold impersonation, he is still the governor of California). The jokes aren’t always timely — Carvey does try a quick bit on Barack Hussein Obama, comparing the likelihood of that name on a presidential candidate as Charles Manson Hitler. But then the comedian just as quickly veers back to the Clintons. The special puts Carvey in an extremely good light. Literally. He doesn’t seem as old as he is in this lighting. He also notes that, like many in the audience, he, too, is a Northern Californian Baby Boomer. "I’m one of you," he quips, both to ingratiate himself with the crowd as well as to set up a series of jokes about that stereotypical lifestyle. The audience eats this all up. About 35 minutes in, after another applause break, Carvey says: "You are encouraging me way too much, but I’m loving it." A set piece in which the oracle of Ronald Reagan explains the presidential precession after him serves to squeeze in Carvey’s trademark takes on George H.W. Bush and H. Ross Perot. But there’s no Church Lady, no Garth in this hour. Although anyone who saw the recent MTV Movie Awards and the reunion of Wayne and Garth will notice that Carvey repeats a joke (though he really says it earlier here, through the magic of tape delay!) about how to explain bisexuality to a kid. By the way, it’s funnier in his Garth voice. He closes with a segment about how parenting and kids are so different now from when he was growing up in the 1960s. Perhaps being a husband and father has kept Carvey out of the limelight in recent years. But this hour on HBO represents Carvey’s statement to the world and to the industry that he’s back and ready to work. If you’ll have him.
Related: Looking to see when it’ll air on HBO again? Click here.
HBO has posted two video clips from the special on Funny or Die. This clip includes Dana Carvey’s bits on disorganized religion and talking to his elderly parents. And this clip features Dana Carvey comparing his Indian cardiologist to a Brooklyn doctor.