One of the all-time greatest cast members of Saturday Night Live, Dana Carvey found his comedy greatness early, winning the San Francisco Comedy Competition when he was 22, then co-starring in a sitcom with Mickey Rooney and a young Nathan Lane, and a bit part in This Is Spinal Tap. Carvey joined SNL at the age of 31 and revolutionized the show’s impersonations by becoming President George H.W. Bush. Carvey also chopped broccoli, pumped you up with Hans and Franz, played Wayne’s sidekick Garth in Wayne’s World, and was and still is the Church Lady. Isn’t That Special? Yes. Yes, it is. Carvey came back in 2016 in a big way, presiding over a comedy game show on USA called First Impressions and releasing a new Netflix special, Straight White Male, 60.
Carvey talked impersonations with me, of course, but also about the concept of knowing when to walk away from show business, and when to come back. He told me how close he came to hosting Late Night on NBC in 1993 — when Conan O’Brien would merely have served as his producer — as well as how he feels to have mentored so many great comedians, and what he’s looking forward to accomplishing in his next stand-up special.
It’s my pleasure to catch up with him, so let’s get to it!