Dana Carvey is an Emmy Award-winning actor, and stand-up comedian. He was born in Missoula, Montana, but grew up in California as his family moved here when he was three. With a natural talent for comedy and impressions, he performed as a stand-up comedian at several Bay Area clubs after graduating from San Francisco State University, and then moved to Hollywood to pursue a career.
After a run in television, Carvey returned to his true passion… stand-up. It was at a comedy show that he was discovered by “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) producer Lorne Michaels. In 1986, Carvey became a household name when he joined the cast of that very show (SNL). Over the years, he performed numerous sketches in the show, which gained him much praise for his impersonations and wide range of unforgettable characters, most notably for playing the role of Garth Algar in “Wayne’s World,” and who could forget his uncanny impersonations of George H. W. Bush and Ross Perot. He is also known for playing The Church Lady, and Hans, from “Hans and Franz” on SNL; both are original SNL characters. He pursued his ambition and made the leap to the big screen in the 1992 hit, “Wayne’s World.” The following year, he received an Emmy Award when he departed from SNL, after spending seven years on the show. I recently had the chance to interview Mr. Carvey and ask him some of my most burning questions about the memorable characters he played, the political climate now, and what he’s up to next.
You recently made a “Church Lady” comeback on SNL to interview Donald Trump (played by the always brilliant Darrell Hammond)—what was it like being back after all these years? Well the dress still fits—thank G-d. I’m finally close to The Church Lady’s real age. So the character seems more real all the time. I’m wearing the dress and wig right now.
You were the political impersonator of my generation. What are your thoughts on the political climate now? It’s comedy gold, right? Trump is almost too funny to make funnier. I can quote him directly in my stand-up act and get huge laughs. Ross Perot and Sarah Palin had the same effect, but Trump is the most bizarre personality to get this close to the oval office. Fasten your seatbelt everybody!
Did you always have a knack for impressions and characters? Was it something you developed over time? When I was a little kid I could talk like a “Beatle.” As in the band not the insect. That started it all.
Looking back on your many characters, who was your favorite and the most fun to play?
Garth was the most fun to play because he was Wayne’s loyal sidekick. It’s always fun to play the guy next to “the guy.” Plus Garth always seemed to have a secret he wasn’t telling anybody. I know what the secret was, but I ain’t telling.
Who was funny in your family, or who first inspired you to pursue a career in comedy?
Everybody in my family is extremely funny. I was inspired to try show business by my classmates and friends who would laugh at my wacky routines.
What would you say was your big break?
My big break was getting on Saturday Night Live. I am forever grateful to Lorne Michaels for giving me a shot even though I had never done sketch comedy.
When you look back on your life and career, what are the most important things you want people to remember about you? I don’t really think much about being remembered. I just like the idea of humans laughing at the stuff I do now. One time I told Jon Lovitz that there was going to be “a billion years from now.” He stared at me and said, “Well then nothing means anything.”
What are you currently working on? I just finished shooting a standup comedy special for Netflix. It will be out in November.
What would you like to do next? I’m going to be launching a podcast with me and my two sons this summer. I would like to write and direct my own low budget film. Or a series for the live streaming networks. Or maybe develop a children’s puppet show and tour shopping malls all across America.
Best piece of advice someone gave you. Lorne Michaels once told me that “no one wants to know how a hotdog gets made.” Think about it. Kinda brilliant.
Tanya Schwied graduated from New York University, studied abroad in Israel, and currently works for the CEO and President of Jewish Federation & Family Services.
Mr. Carvey will be performing as part of Solomon Society’s Late Night event on September 15, 2016 at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Solomon Society of JFFS is Orange County’s fellowship of dynamic Jewish men—brothers, fathers, sons and friends—who today inspire each other through Jewish values and commitment to community. Through business and social networking, leadership, philanthropy, and leveraging its collective power, Solomon Society provides our community with assistance when needed and support for Jews in Orange County, Israel and around the world.
The annual men’s events include: Guys’ Night Out, Supper Clubs (with great food and conversation), Mitzvah Matters (events with Second Harvest, Heritage Pointe and Mandel House), Career Mentoring with Jewish college students, topical speakers and Late Night.
This year’s Mensch of the Year is none other than Ken (Kenny) Beard. Born in Los Angeles, he moved to Tustin at the age of three with his parents Bobbie and Ephie Beard, and brother, Ron, and he currently resides in Newport Coast. Kenny describes himself as an entrepreneur by nature who loves the business of business and the art of negotiation. Currently, Kenny devotes business time to his commercial and residential real estate investments, and quality time to his family—wife Dede, and three children Kayla, Koby, and Gabi.
Kenny has been a very active member of our Jewish community. A founding member of Solomon Society, Kenny has been involved with Jewish Federation and Family Services since 2008, serving both on the JFFS board and Executive Committee. In addition, he is an Executive Committee member on the Tarbut V’Torah board. Kenny has also been involved with the Indian Guides and Indian Princess programs for many years and has served as Chief of both nations. He is honored to be Mensch of the Year and most importantly loves this community and all it represents. “I am thrilled to be able to help and lead our Jewish community in every way I can. As I often look around, I know that we are all so fortunate to have the countless blessings we enjoy. It’s a huge bonus that we can share in that together and an honor for me to be able to give back,” said Beard.
Kenny joins a distinguished group of previous mensches: David Stoll (2010), Michael Stoll (2010), Sam Wyman (2011), Frank Ellis (2012), Phil Waldman (2013), Gideon Bernstein (2014), & Howard Mirowitz (2015).
For more information on Solomon Society or if you would like to become a VIP sponsor, whose company might consider a corporate sponsorship, or for additional information please contact Doris Jacobson or Adrienne Domash at JFFS, (949) 435-3484, or email at SolomonSociety@jffs.org. Α