Dana Carvey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Dana Carvey
Dana Carvey, September 1987
Birth nameDana Thomas Carvey
Born(1955-06-02) June 2, 1955 (age 59)
Missoula, Montana, U.S.
MediumFilm, television, stand-up
Years active1978–present
GenresCharacter comedy, improvisational comedy, observational comedy, satire/political satire
InfluencesRoss Martin, Billy Crystal[1]
InfluencedFrank Caliendo,[2] Jimmy Fallon[3]
SpousePaula Zwagerman (1983–present)
Jump to: navigation, search
Dana Carvey
Dana Carvey, September 1987
Birth nameDana Thomas Carvey
Born(1955-06-02) June 2, 1955 (age 59)
Missoula, Montana, U.S.
MediumFilm, television, stand-up
Years active1978–present
GenresCharacter comedy, improvisational comedy, observational comedy, satire/political satire
InfluencesRoss Martin, Billy Crystal[1]
InfluencedFrank Caliendo,[2] Jimmy Fallon[3]
SpousePaula Zwagerman (1983–present)

Dana Thomas Carvey (born June 2, 1955) is an American actor and stand-up comedian, known for his work as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and for playing the role of Garth Algar in the Wayne's World films. He is well known for his impersonations of George H. W. Bush and Ross Perot on Saturday Night Live.

Early life[edit]

Dana Carvey was born in Missoula, Montana, the son of Billie Dahl, a schoolteacher, and Bud Carvey, a high school business teacher.[4] Carvey is the brother of Brad Carvey, the engineer/designer of the Video Toaster. The character Garth Algar is a loosely based portrayal of Brad. Carvey has Irish and Norwegian ancestry, and was raised Lutheran.[5][6][7] When he was three years old, his family moved to San Carlos, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. He received his first drum kit at an early age. He attended Tierra Linda Junior High in San Carlos, Carlmont High School in Belmont, California (where he was a member of the Central Coast Section champion Cross Country team),[8] College of San Mateo in San Mateo, California, and received his bachelor's degree in broadcast communications from San Francisco State University.[9]


Early career[edit]

He had a minor role in Halloween II, and co-starred on One of the Boys in 1982, a short-lived television sitcom that also starred Mickey Rooney, Nathan Lane, and Meg Ryan. In 1984, Carvey had a small role in Rob Reiner's film This Is Spinal Tap, in which he played a mime, with fellow comedian Billy Crystal (who tells him "Mime is money!"). He also appeared in the short-lived film-based action television series Blue Thunder.

Saturday Night Live[edit]

In 1986, Carvey became a household name when he joined the cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live. He, along with newcomers Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, Jan Hooks, and Victoria Jackson, helped to reverse the show's declining popularity and made SNL "must-see" TV once again. An important part of the show's revival was Carvey's breakout character, The Church Lady, the uptight, smug, and pious host of Church Chat.[10] Carvey said he based the character on women he knew from church while growing up, who would keep track of other churchgoers' attendance. He became so associated with the character that later cast members like Chris Farley referred to Carvey simply as "The Lady".[citation needed]

Carvey's other original characters included Garth Algar (from "Wayne's World") who was based on his brother,[11] Hans (from "Hans and Franz"), and The Grumpy Old Man (from Weekend Update appearances). Throughout the election and presidency of George H. W. Bush, he was the designated impersonator of the president, making him the lead actor of the regular political sketches on SNL.

During the 1992 US presidential election campaign, Carvey also did an impression of independent candidate Ross Perot; in a prime-time special before the election, Carvey played both George H. W. Bush and Perot in a three-way debate with Bill Clinton, played by Phil Hartman. As Perot—prerecorded and timed to give the appearance of interacting with the live Bush and Clinton—Carvey eschewed the show's signature "Live from New York" opening line, telling Bush "Why don't you do it, live-boy?" Carvey left SNL in 1993.

In 1992, Carvey joined Mike Myers in Wayne's World, the film. A sequel, Wayne's World 2, was filmed and released in 1993.

Carvey's SNL work won him an Emmy Award in 1993 for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. He has a total of six Emmy[12] nominations. Carvey has returned to host SNL four times, in 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2011.

Celebrity impersonations[edit]

After SNL[edit]

NBC executives hoped to get Carvey to take over the 12:30 a.m. (ET) weeknight spot in the network's lineup in 1993 when David Letterman left his show, Late Night with David Letterman, for an 11:30 p.m. (ET) show on CBS. The 12:30 spot eventually went to Conan O'Brien.

In 1994, Carvey starred in the film Clean Slate. The following year, in 1995, Carvey filmed his first HBO stand-up special Critic's Choice. The show featured Carvey doing many of his SNL impersonations, as well as making fun of the premium channel's name, pronouncing it "hobo".

He had to turn down a role in Bad Boys because he felt overwhelmed as a new father.[11]

He reprised many of his SNL characters in 1996 for The Dana Carvey Show, a short-lived prime-time variety show on ABC. The show was most notable for launching Robert Smigel's cartoon "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" as well as the careers of Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert.

In 2002, he returned to films in the spy comedy The Master of Disguise. Released a week after former colleague Mike Myers' successful (and similar) film Austin Powers in Goldmember, most critics compared the movies and panned Carvey's effort. However, the movie did manage about $40 million at the North American box office. In March 2007, aggregate review website Rotten Tomatoes ranked the film as the 18th worst-reviewed movie of the 00's decade, with a 1% fresh rating.[13] Comedian and former Mystery Science Theater 3000 host Michael J. Nelson named the film the third-worst comedy ever made.[14] Carvey did not appear in a film again until 2011's Jack and Jill. It too is considered one of the worst comedies of all time.[15][16]

He is number 90 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.[17]

Carvey eventually withdrew from the limelight to focus on his family. He later said in an interview that he does not want to be in a career in which his kids would already be grown with him having neglected spending time with them.

At the January 2, 2007, funeral of Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush reminisced in his eulogy about how Ford took it in stride when SNL's Chevy Chase made Ford the object of impressions. Bush cited this as a valuable lesson in learning to laugh at one's self as a part of public life. "I'd tell you more about that," Bush continued, "but as Dana Carvey would say, [imitating Carvey imitating him] 'Not gonna do it! Wouldn't be prudent!'".

Carvey made an appearance at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards, reprising his SNL character Garth Algar with host Mike Myers for a "Wayne's World" sketch. On June 14, 2008, Carvey filmed a second HBO stand-up special, the first in 13 years, entitled Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies.

In 2010, Carvey appeared in the Funny or Die original comedy sketch Presidential Reunion. He played the role of President George H. W. Bush alongside other current and former SNL president impersonators.

In early 2010, Carvey and comedian/writer Spike Feresten created and starred together in Spoof, a sketch comedy pilot for Fox. This included a sketch of a trailer for "Darwin", a mock film in which he played the evolutionary biologist, as well as a spoof of the hit TV series Lost. Both of these sketches can be seen on the video website YouTube.[18][19] On the animated TV series The Fairly OddParents, Carvey voiced Cosmo Cosma's con artist brother Schnozmo.

Personal life[edit]

In 1979, while performing at The Other Cafe in San Francisco, Carvey met Paula Zwaggerman. They were engaged in 1980. They have two sons together, Dex (born 1991) and Thomas (born 1993). Carvey votes independent. He enjoys playing basketball, as well as the guitar and drums. He also enjoys painting.

In 1997, Carvey underwent heart bypass surgery for a blocked coronary artery, but the surgeon operated on the wrong artery. The blocked artery was deeply buried in muscle and thus hard to find; another artery, though not blocked, was clearly accessible, so the surgeon bypassed it. Carvey, later suffering from angina pectoris, sued for medical malpractice and was awarded $8 million in damages. He donated the money to charity.[20] He has had to undergo additional surgery to correct his heart problems. He told Newsday that, while he was in the hospital for his final angioplasty, Frank Sinatra died in the room adjacent to his.[11]



1981Halloween IIAssistant
1984This Is Spinal TapMime Waiter
1984Racing with the MoonBaby Face
1986Tough GuysRichie Evans
1988MovingBrad Williams
1990Opportunity KnocksEddie
1992Wayne's WorldGarth Algar
1993Wayne's World 2Garth Algar
1994Clean SlateMaurice L. Pogue
1994The Road to WellvilleGeorge Kellogg
1994Trapped in ParadiseAlvin Firpo
1995The ShotDana Carvey
1996Fire on the Track: The Steve Prefontaine StoryHimselfInterviewee
2000Little NickyReferee
2002The Master of DisguisePistachio DisguiseyWriter
2010Presidential ReunionGeorge H. W. BushShort film
2011Jack and JillCrazy Puppeteer[21]


1982One of the BoysAdam Shields13 episodes
1984Blue ThunderClinton "JAFO" Wonderlove11 episodes
1986–1993Saturday Night LiveVarious Roles134 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program
4 Other Nominations for Primetime Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program
Hosted episodes in 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2011
1988Superman 50th Anniversary SpecialHimself1 episode
1992–1997The Larry Sanders ShowHimself3 episodes
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
1996The Dana Carvey ShowHost
Various Roles
8 episodes
Executive producer of 1 episode
1998Just Shoot Me!Oskar Milos1 episode
1998–1999LateLineSenator Crowl Pickens2 episodes
2003Power Rangers Ninja StormAdditional Voices1 episode
2009The Fairly OddParentsSchnozmo CosmaVoice
1 episode
2010SpoofVariousUnaired pilot for Fox Network
2011The Oprah Winfrey ShowHimself1 episode
2011Live with Regis and KellyHimself1 episode
2012Live with KellyHimselfGuest host
3 episodes
2013Rick and MortyLeonardVoice
1 episode

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pollak, Kevin; Carvey, Dana (May 31, 2009). Kevin Pollak's Chat Show. Interview with Kevin Pollak. 
  2. ^ Miller, Dennis; Carvey, Dana (2009-02-13). The Dennis Miller Show. Interview with Dennis Miller. 
  3. ^ Fallon, Jimmy; Carvey, Dana (September 2011). Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Interview with Jimmy Fallon. 
  4. ^ "Dana Carvey Biography (1955-)". FilmReference.com. Retrieved September 3, 2011. 
  5. ^ "CNN Transcript – Larry King Live: Dana Carvey Lives to Tell About Mistaken Bypass Surgery – June 29, 2000". CNN. 
  6. ^ Pearlman, Cindy (1990-04-13). "Dana Carvey grabs at an 'Opportunity'". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "CCS Finals – 1971". Dyestatcal.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  9. ^ "Dana Carvey". Montana Kids. Montana Office of Tourism. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Saturday Night Live Backstage". 2011-02-20. NBC.
  11. ^ a b c "Dana Carvey does stand-up at the Paramount" Newsday May 2, 2013
  12. ^ "Dana Carvey Emmy Nominated". Emmys.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  13. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  14. ^ Nelson, Michael J. "Inoperable Humor: The 5 Worst Comedies of All Time". Cracked. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  15. ^ Carbone, Nick (February 25, 2012). "And the Worst Film of the Year Is Officially …". TIME. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  16. ^ Germain, David (April 2, 2012). "Adam Sandler sets worst-movie record as Jack and Jill wins awards in every category at Razzies". The Independent (London). Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of all Time". Everything2.com. 2004-04-18. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  18. ^ "Dana Carvey is "DARWIN"". YouTube. 2007-06-16. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  19. ^ "Dana Carvey's LOST Spin-off". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  20. ^ Henerson, Evan (2002-08-04). "Zest". "Carvey not laughing - this time". Houston Chronicle (2 Star edition ed.). Chron.com. p. 12. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  21. ^ "Dana Carvey to Make His Comeback in Jack and Jill?". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Arsenio Hall
MTV Video Music Awards host
Succeeded by
Christian Slater