Thursday, February 03, 2011

Who is Dana Carvey, and why is he hosting SNL?

We were asked that question. So here's the answer...

Are you serious? Really? Dana Carvey saved SNL. I'm serious. It was on the brink of being canceled in 1985. Jon Lovitz and Dennis Miller got it just enough of an audience to have one final season after their failure season in 85. And that's the season (1986-1987) when they brought on Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman. Phil and Lovitz were good, but Dana's Church Lady (on the very first episode of the season) immediately made him into the "next Eddie Murphy" and brought SNL back on America's map.

His characters include Grumpy Old Man (inspired a series of movies), Garth, Ching Change, Hans (and Franz), Church Lady, and Lyle the effiminate heterosexual (hilarious).

His George Bush Sr. was the first legendary presidential impersonation that all of them have been trying to achieve the status of. On SNL he did over 50 impressions, also including his impossible-to-beat Johnny Carson and Jimmy Stuart.

Dana Carvey won an Emmy on SNL and was nominated an additional 4 times (only Lorne has that beat, and nobody has been nominated that often for acing on SNL). He was also nominated for another Emmy on another show, totaling 6 Emmy nominations with one win.

And all that to say, when he was on SNL, the man was a legend. However, he left SNL and everything fell apart for him.

He was such a legend that he left SNL to create his own variety show and to star in his first movie, Clean Slate. The movie was funny, but didn't do well (it did inspire Momento though). Basically, it wasn't shocking enough. And his show was hilarious, but it also wasn't enough (a half hour variety show in prime time on a major network is a huge challenge and almost impossible to get to work).

So he did everything right on SNL and nothing right after that. He found his niche on SNL (crazy characters) but he didn't have the ability to turn those characters into longer stories the way Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Will Ferrell have. In fact, he was Adam Sandler's hero, which is why Adam cast him in Little Nicky, produced Master of Disguises (a flop), and has now cast him in Jack and Jill.

Which is why Dana Carvey is on. He's in a large role in an Adam Sandler film later this year, Jack and Jill. Basically Dana's trying again. I got to give him props for that, because he was the king of SNL back in his day and brought it back into popularity. So the potential for him to find another niche still exists.

He's a legend.

I think Dana was more important to the show than both Eddie Murphy and Will Ferrell. However, they were far more successful when they left (even Jon Lovitz was, and he hasn't been all that successful). Plus guys like Rob Schneider, David Spade, Kevin Nealon, Chris Kattan, Tracy Morgan, and Phil Hartman didn't do as well on the show, but they all had better careers in TV and film than Dana did once they left the show.



TheKinkySurgeon said...

I'm secretly hoping for a waynes world reboot with linkin park as a guest and a mike myers cameo.
but i hope they don't use all of danas old characters and do some new sketches and show what he can do now. Now i have to watch best of dana carvey before I watch the show tomorrow in case there are any inside jokes they bring back.


i'm also really excited for linkin park :) liiiiiike

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Opportunity Knocks, flat out one of the best comedies ever and best Dana Carvey movie- hands down! :)

Anonymous said...

Also, he's a cancer survivor, that's a huge accomplishment, and he toured very successfully with his comedy act/show.

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