By Bobbie Katz
Comedian Dana Carvey has always been a real stand-up guy.
Throughout his career, he has viewed his getting laughs in terms of the rhythm and musicality of his performance. Perhaps that’s why his brand of go-with-the-flow humor has always struck a unique chord with his audiences, making him a popular figure on the stand-up comedy scene.
Of course, along with the peals of laughter he generates, it could also be the bells the crowd hears ringing that bring all together. That’s because it’s very probable that Carvey will be bringing his famous breakout “Saturday Night Live” character, The Church Lady, to the Orleans where he’ll be performing September 20-21. The hilariously uptight, smug, and pious host of Church Chat is based on women Carvey knew from church while growing up who would keep track of other churchgoers' attendance Whether or not she will appear in full regalia at the Orleans, she’ll be letting it all hang out, adding new depth to the scale of Carvey’s ample repertoire.
“I will be hitting the audience with stuff that is psychological, political and emotional, “Carvey explains. “I do a lot of what’s happening in the news. But my goal is nothing less than shocking the world. I like to lay it on the line, let myself go, be real and be present on stage. I don’t phone my performance in.”
“I’m not a set up-and-punch comedian,” he continues. “Ultimately for me, I walk out on stage and something happens. I call it ‘extending rhythms.’ Like jazz, it’s improvisational and it grooves. Because my act is about 50 percent ad-lib, being on stage is exhausting for me. I have to rest for a day after doing 90 minutes.”
Luckily for Carvey, the whole world is funny to him so he has plenty of places from which to derive his material. He came out of “Saturday Night Live,” having spent his formative years in comedy (1987-1994) with the show, and also spent some 10,000 hours honing his act in little bars and dives where a lot of his characters and impressions came from. Besides the characters he became known for such as Hans from Hans and Franz and The Grumpy Old Man from Weekend Updates, Carvey ultimately became famous for the Garth Algar character he played in the Wayne’s World films.
Carvey notes that he always has a lot of ideas but that making them truly funny takes hard work and focus. He says he relieves the pressure of the business by “processing the planet” while hiking – as much as 10 miles\“really hard” – and by playing instruments such as piano, guitar and drums. He’s been married for 28 years and has two sons, Dex and Thomas, born in 1991 and 1993, respectively. In fact, he took time off from the limelight for a while to focus on family, not wanting to be in a career in which his children would grow up with his having neglected them.
However, back in 1997, the comedian had to undergo heart-bypass surgery for a blocked coronary artery,.Whern the surgeon mistakenly operated on the wrong artery because the blocked artery was deeply buried in muscle and thus hard to find, Carvey ended up suffering from angina pectoris. He sued for medical malpractice and was awarded $7.5 million, which he donated to charity. Carvey has had to have a total of five medical procedures (one surgery and four angioplasties) to correct his heart problems.
“Comedians are sensitive instruments,” Carvey admits. “We’re a little crazy. I’m both funny around the house and normal. Though we’re weird, moody, neurotic and serious, we can make things less tense by using humor.”
Carvey acknowledges that he and his comedian friends will bounce ideas off each other when they are working on films As to whether there is any jealousy among his peers, he states that there is none on his part at all. He has a lot of friends in the business, including Dennis Miller, David Spade, Adam Sandler and cohort Mike Meyers.
“Jealousy is young people’s stuff,” he remarks. “I’m just happy to be alive and having fun. No one gets out of here alive and none of it will be important 100 million years from now.”
Onstage or off, he’s got the beat.