Former Saturday Night Live co-workers Dennis Miller and Dana Carvey are touring together this summer. On Sunday, The Washington Post published an interview with Carvey as the two head to the Kennedy Center in the nation’s capital for a show on July 12.
While Miller now delights the right with a radio show and humorous appearances on Fox News, Carvey claims “I ride both sides.” But it became clear he doesn’t mock Barack Obama, because somehow he’s so much more serious than our other presidents and presidential candidates:
“When we had the Southerners in there — [George] W. [Bush]and [Bill] Clinton — it was more of a ready-made, kind of like Sarah Palin or like Ross Perot. With Obama, the problem wasn’t just that he was a Northerner, but that this guy was not a walking, talking cartoon — so what are we going to do?”
Even after six years, Carvey can’t do an Obama impression – or won’t because it’s too hard, or too racist or something. Everyone else is a “cartoon” compared to him. In his 2008 HBO special “Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies,” Carvey only made fun of his name, suggesting Barack Hussein Obama is liking having the name Charles Manson Hitler:
Carvey did mock Hillary Clinton's speeches, even if he over-amped the joke by suggesting Bill Clinton was the best speaker in a millennium. (Surely he's right that Bill thinks he's 100 times better at speaking than the spouse.)
Carvey also suggested Obama had too many public personas to mock...which...isn’t mockable?
“There are many different Obamas in his rhythms,” Carvey said. “There’s Obama giving an address to the nation. There’s Obama at a press conference. There’s Obama at a rally.”
The Post somehow claimed that Carvey’s Bush impressions were “insurrectionist,” which is putting way too harsh a label on Carvey’s schtick:
Carvey’s impressions are so likable that George H.W. Bush considered him a kind of court jester, inviting him to official events.
“We’re still friends,” Carvey said of the 41st president. “I saw him a couple months ago. I have a 90-year-old friend. I’m surprised he parachuted on his birthday. But Barbara and I had a conversation about it. Barbara was worried about it, and he wanted to go.”
It wasn’t that he did such benign impersonations of Bush that they became friends, he said. In fact, he added, people didn’t know how insurrectionist it was.
“When you’re working in a more of a subtle, subversive way,” Carvey said, “then yeah, it kind of gets lost.”
PS: One of the funniest Carvey bits for news junkies is his Tom Brokaw wanting to on vacation for the winter, so they make him report the death of Gerald Ford in advance (this was in 1996).
PPS: Chris Stigall tweeted me a Randy Hall NB post from 2012 showing Carvey supported his colleague Jon Lovitz mocking Obama and suggested the "question authority" mantra seemed to be out the window.