Too Funny to Fail: The Life & Death of The Dana Carvey Show (2017) Movie Script

You know, then there's
just sort of tumbleweeds.
"Sir, do you mind
if I ask you
what went on here?"
"There was a TV show,
last Sunday last.
The circus left the town."
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Yeah, I remember
The Dana Carvey Show.
What's your memory right now
of The Dana Carvey Show?
Oh, it's the same
I always have, uh...
a failure.
Hopefully I'll watch this show
and I'll look at the clips
and they'll make me laugh,
and for a day I'll
feel good about it.
Then back to...
Then back to abject regret.
I don't know why
you're laughing.
We--this is as I remember it,
and I can't say
this is actually the
truth or it happened,
or it may have nothing to do
with anything that happened.
Put--put that disclaimer
in front of everything I say.
Nietzsche once said...
gotta do something
about this syphilis..."
"...'cause I'm goin' crazy."
And I think that's what
we were trying to say,
is that...
aren't we all crazy?
I'm sorry,
what was the question?
All right, so before
we get to the show,
what's your first memory
from growing up
of being funny?
Well, since
we have time, Josh,
thanks for asking that.
I was
a quintessential baby boomer
raised in California,
middle-class suburb,
and I was eight.
The Beatles were
being interviewed
and I heard their voices.
How do you write songs?
Well, it just depends.
Sometimes you write
them on old pianos
and anything
that's lying around.
And I was walking around
talking like this
all the time.
You know, I don't know
how perfect I had it,
but I basically--
that was the first time
I altered my voice,
was just a generalized
Beatle voice.
That was a big deal.
And then I kind of developed
a little--a style of my own.
- Curious?
- Mm-hm.
All right, that's lunch!
And I'd love to be
at a restaurant
with a typical news anchorman ordering dinner for his wife,
and it would go a little
something like this.
The waitress comes up,
"May we take your order, sir?"
You certainly may,
and a surprise coming
out of my wife today.
She'll have her
steak medium rare
and a cup of black coffee
instead of the
traditional cream and sugar.
I didn't realize
I was preparing myself
to be a stand-up.
You can see Dana Carvey live
in Old Sacramento
at Laughs Unlimited.
He's really
a talented young guy.
That's a must.
We'll all have to go see him.
I'm going to college,
and then I saw a thing
in the paper that said,
"Local comedians
play comedy showcase."
And I'm in this
little--this little dive,
and I took a napkin out
and I started
writing down my bits.
Then a guy came up
who blew the roof
off the place,
and I put--I took the napkin
and put it back in my pocket.
I go, "Maybe I'm not
good enough to do this."
It was Robin Williams.
That was the first
night I did it.
Guy who ran the showcase
couldn't believe
it was my first time.
And he talked in sound effects.
Did your dad make
noises when he talked?
He'd go, "Kids, hey."
You wanna go to the store,
pick up some milk,
and bring it back home, huh?
And that was
the most profound moment,
was that first night,
because it's so
exhilarating for me,
like, I felt like I was home,
like, wow, this is awesome.
This is my impression
of a very pretentious rock star.
I think all of us at
one time in our lives
wanted to be a rock star.
All you have to do
is flare your nostrils,
look like you're about to vomit.
Everything you say is
suddenly terribly important.
Doesn't have to make
any literal sense.
So there I am,
Saturday Night Live,
and Lorne Michaels walks in,
and then I see
the head of the network,
Brandon Tartikoff,
so it was, like,
so much fuckin' pressure.
It's Saturday Night Live
with Dana Carvey.
- I'm Hans.
- And I am Franz.
And we just want
to pump you up.
Now please welcome
the most excellent
Dana Carvey,
ladies and gentlemen.
Who was behind the wheel
of our Lincoln Town Car
when we drove into
the Crazy 8 Motel?
Could it be...
You like the pepper?
Because all
the stuff I was doing
on the show had
so much success...
...I almost had
too much heat on me.
It was almost distortive.
Our next guest starred in
the blockbuster
film Wayne's World.
Please welcome the man
who put the "uckle"
in "chuckle,"
Dana Carvey!
Dana Carvey!
Say hello to Dana Carvey.
I was such an SNL
nerd when I was a kid,
uh, you know, in my teens.
I lived in New York,
and Saturday Night Live,
as big as it was in
the country in the '70s,
it was even bigger
if you lived in New York.
It meant everything.
I went to high school
and I was a smartass,
and I wanted to be
funny for a living,
but then I still went
and became a dentist,
uh, or tried to,
because my father
had a great practice.
He developed the
tooth bonding technique,
which was a series of accidents.
You know, somebody had
developed this material
that was designed for--
This is gonna be a big
part of the special.
Fortunately, I just
sucked at biology
and organic chemistry,
and then I remember
just thinking about
how much I loved
the Saturday Night Live cast,
and suddenly it
just occurred to me
that I love them so much,
and they make me so happy,
I guess it is worth
doing for a living.
That was really my dream,
like, could I be
a part of that show.
How was your week?
Real good, real good.
Good, any heart attacks?
- I had one.
- Had a couple.
Da Bears.
I wrote those Super Fans
Chicago "Da Bears" sketches
with Bob Odenkirk,
and for some reason,
Jim Downey,
the head writer,
liked my Chicago accent.
Really makes you
want to shed the tears.
The tears.
So he insisted that
I be put in sketch.
He's choking,
he's choking.
I got it, I got it,
I got it, I got it.
Robert Smigel,
in my opinion,
is the single greatest
sketch comedy
writer of all time.
Good to have you here, Triumph.
Very good to have you.
Great to be here.
Also, most people
do not know this.
Robert Smigel is the guy
behind Triumph
the Insult Comic Dog.
Pay no attention
to the Jewish hand.
He was the first person
that I could think of a sketch,
work with him a little
bit on the sketch,
go home, come back,
and the sketch
is actually better
and a lot better.
My name is Carsenio
and this is going to be a party.
You are correct, sir, yes.
So we worked together
on a lot of stuff.
Oh my God!
Robert Smigel and I
had a great partnership on SNL.
We had a really
similar sensibility.
And that's the way it was,
and we liked it.
Dana just dominated.
But as Commander in Chief,
I am ever cognizant
of my authority
to launch
a full-scale orgy of death
there on the desert sand.
It was exhilarating
when someone would give me
a great line, you know,
and I could say their line,
and then I'd be out
there getting a huge laugh.
You're insane, John.
He was just a star overnight.
I was in high school in '96,
and Dana Carvey was our hero.
I mean, I skipped school
to see Wayne's World.
He was a massive, massive star.
Put it this way, when I
left Saturday Night Live,
it was like a little blog post
that was this big, you know?
And I'd been there eight years.
When he left it,
he was on the cover
of Rolling Stone.
When I left SNL,
no one had ever
been on SNL that long.
I'm just trying to figure out
what to do next, you know?
Ladies and gentlemen,
please welcome the man
who is just a heartbeat away
from taking over this show,
Dana Carvey--Dana!
Dana was offered
David Letterman's time slot
when Letterman left,
and that was the first notion
I sort of started to have
about working with
Dana in another venue.
That was a really tough decision
'cause I thought
I'd really love that job,
but I had two little
kids at that point
and I thought it seemed like
such a big leap, you know?
'Cause it's, like, 200 hours
of television a year.
I just didn't think
it played into
a daddy kind of situation.
Are they worried about
your future career?
People on the street
have been stopping me,
"What are you" --
really, like, in tears,
gettin'--"What are
you gonna do, man?
What are you gonna do?"
So after thinking about
it for a couple weeks,
I kind of decided that
it would be fun to do
sketch comedy again,
but with more creative freedom.
So I called Robert.
"Yeah, would you--
think maybe we should
try to do something somewhere."
It's not just gonna
be an SNL clone,
we're gonna really try
and do inventive things.
And I immediately
wanted to do that job.
So that's the genesis.
Dana Carvey,
ladies and gentlemen.
Always a pleasure.
What I wanted to do was...
I have this expression,
"the rebels with sweaters"
are the ones that
I always look up to,
like Letterman
and Larry David
and Jerry.
Steve Martin, too.
Did I have this
on the whole time?
Well, I must have looked
like an idiot up here.
They didn't advertise
that they were
reinventing anything,
just sort of snuck up on you
and appeared to be doing
what everyone was doing,
but they did it
completely differently.
I wanted to do that
with a sketch show.
Start from scratch
and create
something brand new
that would work
in a time period
where sketch comedy
hadn't worked in years.
The primetime audience.
When we first started
developing the show,
I went round and round,
where are we gonna bring it?
We met with NBC
and CBS and ABC.
They came in,
Smigel came in,
Dana came in,
everybody laughs,
has one of those
amazing meetings,
and Dana, I thought,
was a prime time favorite
that the audience
would love to see him do
his most wonderful characters.
He was at the top of the game.
I mean, the guy did it all,
but I just loved
those impressions.
It was a time where
situation comedy
was starting to feel
a little soft on networks.
Tuesday, Jesse's the underdog
in a canine competition,
so he gets some tips
from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
This is a ball,
that is the basket.
Full House, Tuesday.
The same-old, same-old thing
was just getting tough,
that we need an idea,
we need something big.
We gotta go out strong,
we gotta show people we're bold,
not the same old show that
they've seen all the time.
We gotta make noise.
Dana was the most
conservative about, like,
well, maybe if we
want to do something
with a late night sensibility,
why don't we do it on HBO?
But my manager
and Robert Smigel
thought that, no, I have
a certain crossover appeal,
and I'll be frustrated on HBO
with that small audience,
so I should be on network.
HBO's great.
You can have a lot
of creative freedom,
you can swear,
but I'm gonna give you
a Home Improvement lead-in.
That's the best
lead-in in television.
It can really just take
off and be a big-ass deal.
ABC was the number one network,
and we were gonna follow
the number one show,
and any kind of
counterargument we made
after that was
considered overthinking.
And so we went with ABC.
Yep, we went with ABC.
You gotta be nuts, too,
and you're gonna need
a crew as nuts as you are.
Who do you got in mind?
You guys have sold the show,
you and Dana, biggest network,
and you've gotta put
your team together,
so let's pretend
this is Ocean's Eleven
and you're assembling your team.
I wish I had used
Ocean's Eleven as a model
since they were so successful,
you know?
Instead, I just sort of
randomly chose people
based on their talent.
Now I know where
I went wrong.
Big news from Brown's Chicken.
We now have
cholesterol free batter
so our chicken is
cooked completely...
cholesterol free.
I think up until that point,
my television experience
consisted of a triple
cheeseburger commercial.
That was...
that was--that was something
I was really, really famous for
and excited about.
And I remember my agent told me
if it doesn't
happen for you soon,
it's not going to happen.
I was like, "Wow.
Thanks for the support."
I am Fabio.
And I would like to make you
my very special lady tonight.
I had visited Second City
to scout talent,
and Steve Carell was somebody
I'd heard about for years.
I knew that he was, like,
considered legendary
at Second City.
And then I'll take their head
and I'll tilt it
so it's facing into mine,
and you can tell
how much oxygen
is getting to the brain
because the eyes
start to dilate
and roll to the
side of the head,
I'm sorry, this is boring you.
And then they die, blah,
blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And I had never seen him
because in the year
we went, we were told
this guy Steve Carell's
not here tonight,
and there was an understudy.
And we watched the show,
and the understudy
just killed it
in the improv set.
And at the end of the night,
I said, "I really
like the understudy."
It was Colbert.
Colbert was Carell's understudy.
But they were absolute nobodies,
and I want to emphasize that.
I mean, these guys were nothin'.
It's absolutely true.
I was, I don't know,
I don't--uh, unemployed
in Chicago?
Uh, absolutely no
prospects of getting a job?
My wife, she was
out of a job,
I was out of a job,
and we had a brand new baby.
And so I remember...
my mom asking,
"How are you doing?"
And I said, "Mom, I know,
she doesn't have a job
and I don't have a job,
and we got a new baby
and I don't know why
but I'm not worried."
And there was a long pause,
and my mom said,
"I don't know why either."
And then suddenly
I had this ice chip in my heart
which has never
really gone away.
And so I was like,
"I gotta get a job,
I gotta get a job."
When he understudied for me,
I did a scene in the show
where I had to play
the baritone horn,
and I grew up playing
the baritone horn.
He never--he'd never played
a brass instrument in his life.
Skipped work, I called in sick,
I just played 24 hours a day.
I would go to sleep
with it with me
and I'd wake up, my lips
were just, like, purple.
They were bruised
and inverted
from having to
blow for six days.
For some reason he wasn't
available to audition.
At the last minute,
he heard that I was
looking for him.
Hi, I'm Stephen Colbert.
All he sent us was
some crazy video
of himself holding up
his little daughter.
Hey, everybody!
I'm Baby,
and I'm one of Stephen
Colbert's characters.
Yeah, every week I'm gonna
tell you a little bit
about what it's
like being a baby.
So, these two guys
walk into a bar, okay?
And one of 'em
starts wiping my ass
with a moist towelette.
Boy, does that feel
good, who's with me?
And she had such
a load in her pants.
Her diaper was so full...
- And look...
- ...that it was leaking up
the back of her onesie.
And he was telling us how much
he needed to support her.
I promised myself
I wouldn't do this.
It's not fair,
I don't know how
we're gonna feed her
or clothe or give her what--
you know, what we had.
Why--why am I an actor?
My brothers are lawyers.
There's summer camp and...
their own car.
Kids have their own car.
I don't have a car.
Their kids have cars,
and they're so old.
Oh, you don't need to hear this.
Not your problem.
And I think that's actually
what got me the callback.
No, it didn't.
No, that was quite disturbing.
The finalists came out to LA,
and we were at Igby's,
the club where I was discovered
by Lorne Michaels.
And everyone got up
in front of a quasi
little audience, and...
Whenever I see
Steve at an audition,
I'm like, well, that's it,
I'm not gonna beat
Stephen Colbert out.
When I found out that
Carell was auditioning,
I was like, "Well, that's it.
I'll never get the job now,"
because, I mean,
I'd hire Carell.
Carell, when he first
came in the room,
he just is too nervous.
I generally did not
audition very well,
and I never got called for SNL,
which is something
I'd always wanted.
So in my mind it was
sort a big last shot.
And I was so, so nervous.
I think they wanted
an impression,
and I don't do impressions,
but there were ABC people there,
there were the producers
and there was Dana,
and so I did the Pope,
who at the time--I think
it was John Paul II,
who talked like this.
Uh, my audition was just
him saying things like,
"I do not understand
what I am saying,
but I learned to speak
English phonetically."
And Robert Smigel really
thought that was funny.
I can't believe he
dropped into our lap.
He was just, out of
everybody who auditioned,
he was just, like,
that guy's gonna be on the show.
Like, there was no question.
I was walking off the
stage and Dana came up
and put his arm
around me and said,
"I think you should feel
pretty good about that."
And I was like, "Oh my gosh,
let's not--I hope that
means what he think--
I think that meant."
Oh, and before--
so I...
so I came out of the audition
and I was feeling...
pretty good,
and Stephen was after me,
and I didn't, you know,
tell him that it--
you know, I just--
I didn't talk about it.
But we were chat--
we were chatting
and I didn't realize
he was kind of preparing
and getting ready to go on.
And I'm doing the rundown
in my head of everything,
I'm doing, like, the nine
things I'm about to do,
and I'm running
through it in my head,
and Carell walks up
to me and he goes,
"How's Evie?"
"How's Evie doing?"
"I just--Nancy, we just,
we miss so seeing
you guys out there."
It was like I was
trying to, like,
remember the
combination to a safe
and he's going,
"4, 28, 7, 6, 3.14," like that.
And I was like, "So, anyway,"
and I was just talking
to him about stuff.
- And he said:
- "Please!
Please, I'm about to go on.
Please go away."
"God, please go away."
I didn't know what else to say.
I remember flying back
from Los Angeles to Chicago
to await my fate,
and I landed back in Chicago
and it's wintertime in Chicago,
and I'm back in the apartment,
and Ev--and I know
that Carell gets the gig.
Carell gets hired,
like, on a Friday.
And I'm like,
"Well, that's it.
There it is."
Robert hadn't put out
any other calls yet.
You know, I was the
first person he called,
and I was, you know, asking him
who else he's going to hire,
and I remember him saying,
"Well, we want to hire Colbert."
And then he said,
"You want to call him?"
And I called Stephen
in Chicago and I said,
"How do you feel about
moving to New York
and doing the show together?"
Madeline was asleep
in her, like, bassinet
in the corner of the living
room of our apartment,
and I was like, "That's great,"
'cause the baby's asleep.
I'm like, "Oh, wow,
that's so fantastic.
Okay, hold on one second."
Like, "Are you there?
We said we want to hire you."
Like, "I know,
hold on one second."
So I went out of the living room
into the back bedroom,
closed the door,
into the bathroom,
closed the door,
into the shower
and closed the door
and yelled at
the top of my lungs.
And then I was off
the next day,
off to New York the next day
with a gig.
And everything
was gonna be okay.
A network gig,
and I was on it.
We were on it.
I couldn't believe,
it was like the gig of gigs.
It was such a big deal.
There was such anticipation
of what this show
was gonna be like,
because, well,
ABC was putting
it on prime time.
What a mistake.
Welcome back to the show.
Thank you very
much for being here.
Tell me all about your new show.
What is this,
The Dana Carvey Show?
So once we had our core people,
we had about two months
to get the show on the air.
We had to put the team together.
It started with me and
Smigel, and that was it.
So the first piece
was the head writer.
He told me, like,
to have a guy
who was only, like,
29 at the time
as the head writer.
Completely unknown.
His name was Louis C. K.
Robert had worked with him
on Conan.
You guys are dog experts.
One problem that
a lot of people have
is dogs that go to the
bathroom in the house.
That's very common,
what she's trying to say is,
"I made you something!
Look, it's a present!
It's all I have to give
to show you that I love you."
Sometimes the dog is doing
it for a different reason.
Sometimes he's
saying, "I'm angry!
Where were you?
I was all alone,
and I have nothing else
to do but this for you!
I love you!"
It started with Louis
and Dino Stamatopoulos.
They created the Conan show
with Conan and I,
and they're both brilliant guys.
For a lot of people,
it was their first...
their first job,
their first break, you know?
We hired Robert Carlock,
who has since become
one of the most talented
showrunners on television.
Oh my goodness, thank you.
Back then, he was just
a kid out of college,
and he really was funny,
and inexpensive.
I showed up all bright
eyed and bushy tailed,
and, uh, terrified,
and I think the fact that
they'd completely forgotten
that I was coming
meant that I just
sort of sat outside
the locked door for hours.
Who else did we hire?
We hired Bill Chott.
He did a really,
really funny impression
of Jackie Gleason
as Ralph Kramden...
Bang, zoom!
...famous character
from The Honeymooners,
uh, taking a shit.
I had used this
exact same impression
on my Saturday
Night Live audition
and tanked it.
I might have been
laughing even harder
just imagining Lorne
Michaels watching this
and probably being repulsed.
The other cast member
was Heather Morgan,
who was very different
than what we envisioned.
Oh, one time
I spent the night
at my best friend
Beatrice's house,
but we slept in a van
'cause her mother's boyfriend
was gonna kill us,
but then the next
morning when we woke up,
he had slept it off,
so we got a pizza.
But she just had this intensity,
she kind of fit with
the whole sensibility.
At the audition, I was,
like, the only girl
with a gigantic cage
that I kept moving along,
and I think everybody thought,
"She's crazy.
She's out of her
mind," you know?
Oh, hi Jack!
Jack, Stacy, how are ya?
Yeah, yeah, I'm in
the pen again, yeah.
And of course we hired
Charlie Kaufman.
Charlie Kaufman for
Eternal Sunshine of
the Spotless Mind.
Thanks to the Academy.
Twenty-nine seconds,
twenty-seven seconds.
Um, that's really
intimidating, um...
Charlie Kaufman hadn't
written any famous movies
up to that point,
but he was a really
inventive writer.
I felt like we gotta--
gotta give this guy a shot.
And that was the team
that was being put together.
We had some great people
that we didn't cast.
Ana Gasteyer,
Lewis Black,
Tracy Morgan,
Jimmy Fallon.
I very distinctly remember
all the women in
the casting department
fawning over this
20-year-old skinny guy
with a guitar.
Louis basically hated him,
and was instantly jealous
and just didn't want him around.
I think I actually said
I will quit the show...
- What?
- ...if you hire that kid.
You had all your hair,
you were, you know, in shape,
you were a young kid,
and I was already kind of
just, like, sweaty and balding,
and I was depressed,
and it was pure jealousy,
and in my head, I knew it, like,
"This is really
up to be doing this,
because this kid
is really talented,
but I don't want to
look at him every day
'cause it'll make me
upset about myself."
Amongst that staff,
Robert had
definitely put together
not only incredibly
talented comedy writers,
but comedy writers
who were a bit renegade,
who were not mainstream,
who were not known for
just taking all your notes
and putting them
into the script.
We had hired
badass nerd pirates
to blow up television.
This show would
represent anarchy.
This was blowing up the system.
And now for something
completely different.
That was one of the hooks
we had that was like,
it's gonna be like
Monty Python a little.
Presentational in that
Monty Python way, you know?
And we kick off this evening
with a look at the cinema.
That's the thing I aspired to.
To me, that's the best stuff,
when I don't quite
know why it's funny,
and it gets funnier
over time, and...
This is an ex-parrot.
This is often the most fun part,
the few months before the
show is actually on the air
and you're just
coming up with ideas,
and everything is possible.
Ideas could come from anything.
It could be, like,
people are sittin' around
eatin' cereal, and then
somethin' made somebody laugh,
so they do it.
It was completely
collaborative in a way.
Whoever had the best idea,
"What'd you say,
what did he say?"
So we had a month to go
till we're airing on ABC.
We weren't gonna be on live,
so we could record
some sketches
before the premiere.
And we didn't really
have our own studios.
We were just in
a studio on the weekends.
We just frantically
started writing, taping,
just trying to pull
the show together,
just "I guess we're
gonna do this," you know,
'cause at some point,
you gotta shoot somethin'.
Quiet on the set,
roll tape.
And now, Waiters who
are Nauseated by Food.
Good evening,
my name is Roger,
this is my back waiter, Stuart,
and we'll be serving
you this evening.
I had a bit that
I would do literal--
I was a waiter for many years,
and I literally
would do this bit
for the other waiters.
Our soup today is
a creamy fish chowder
with chunks of potatoes, corn...
...and scallops.
I was hungover so
many times for lunch
that I--I couldn't even
read the specials card
without getting nauseous,
so I would do bits
for the other waiters,
and so that was my bit,
waiters who are
nauseated with food.
That's not complicated.
Carell had a thing that he did,
totally independent,
as a podiatrist
who is nauseated by feet,
though neither one
of them was called that.
Robert insisted that
we call the sketches
"Waiters who are
Nauseated by Food"
because I learned from Robert,
why are you hiding your
joke from the audience?
Tell them what the joke is.
Today's seafood is...
Today's seafood is flounder.
Stephen, he didn't know
what the menu was going to be,
so I said,
"Let me write the menu,"
so he would be reading
for the first time.
We have a milk-fed veal
with a, uh, a mint jelly that...
...that comes--that
comes with asparagus tips
and an olive caper sauce.
Stephen Colbert and I have
sort of different dry heaves.
Mine was kind of like a...
And Stephen's was
kind of like a...
We also have a cobb salad
with a warm
bacon cream dressing.
Uh, our final special is...
Our final special is chick...
I can't.
Well, hello!
Carell and I were so excited.
We were office mates, you know?
And we were like,
"I can't believe...
like, what we got
to work on today."
We wrote a sketch
and flew to Florida
to shoot half of it.
At Rockefeller, we got
this horse to skydive.
We're not quite sure
of the benefit to humans,
but look at that.
Really magnificent.
It's like, yay,
this is show business,
this is the real deal.
All of our offices
were all lined up,
you know, it was,
like, me and Dino,
Louis, Dana and Robert,
and across the way
Carell and Colbert.
I think there were some
non-creative producers
on the other side
of the hallway,
and it was always
completely different
over on their end.
On our end,
we would be laughing,
eating candy,
running up and down doing bits.
Here we are in my office,
That was my first job,
so it was a really big deal.
- Ah!
- But it was a...
super loose atmosphere.
My name is...
I was never told
that there was anything
that I couldn't do,
which is why some people,
and I'm not naming names,
would get high
around the offices.
Disappointment and dismay
upon the discovery that a bowl,
belonging to area residents
Mike Cudahy and
"Thatches" Moynihan,
was cashed.
The bowl,
described as "a big fat bowl,"
was not expected to be
cashed until much later
as it had just been packed.
And ABC, I'm sure,
thought they were
getting Church Lady
and all of Dana's
classic characters
that are perfect
for prime time,
and they ended up getting,
you know, weirder stuff,
shall we say.
Germans Who Say Nice Things.
You are the world's
greatest grandpa!
Let's all pile
into the minivan
and go get
some frozen yogurt!
It's all--
I can't believe
I'm even talking about this
in a documentary.
Like, "Tell me...
tell me the genesis
of 'Germans Who
Say Nice Things.'
What was in your mind?
How did you--
how did you create..."
So, I'm sure I thought of it
five minutes before an audition
and went, "Okay, maybe that--
it's loud and maybe
it'll get their attention."
That cloud looks like a pony!
Dana really liked--
Dana really liked that,
and so he was like,
"Can we do that together?"
It was a pleasure
babysitting Kevin!
Every time he screamed,
I tried to at least match him.
Let's make snow angels!
And I went as hard as I could.
He always had this other gear.
You are not getting older,
you are getting better!
We were tossed
into a very funny fire
because Dana was such a star.
Leftover Beatle Memories.
I remember my first
Snickers bar in America.
You know, I bit into it,
and there was
these peanuts in it.
I couldn't bloody believe it.
Dana's one of the great
the hook-finder
of all hook-finders.
His impression was not
like Impressiatron 5000.
It wasn't picture perfect,
but it was--
the hook was so deep
that it didn't matter.
It was like there was
a little man on the other end
feeding peanuts
into the candy bar I was eating.
And I called John over.
I said, "John, look at this,
it's all packed with peanuts.
What's all that, right?"
And I didn't do impressions.
Thank God my wife
wasn't there yet
because I remember
staying up all night long
with tapes and a mirror
next to the TV.
Yeah, I was frustrated
sometimes, you know.
I wrote this little
skiffle song, you know, once
called "Me and My Squid,"
and it went...
And I took it to John
and Paul and they said,
"The Beatles don't do
songs about mollusks."
And then six months later,
Paul comes back
with "Octopus's Garden,"
I mean,
there was a lot
of crap like that.
I didn't know the team
was that brilliant
until it sort of evolved.
New wonders await us in our...
These are guys that
I really respected,
so, you know how when
you just want somebody
to think that you deserve
to exist in their world?
Welcome to Burger World,
can I help you?
Uh, yes, um...
We'd like, um, three large
double cheeseburgers.
Three large fries
and an apple pie and...
"Stupid Pranksters,"
these two guys stage pranks
that ended up hurting
themselves in some way.
That was just spending a day
with one of your idols.
Yeah, I was super nervous,
trying to be
in a scene with him
without thinking,
"Oh, my gosh,
I'm in a scene
with Dana Carvey."
Here's a 20.
Okay, I'll be right back
with your change and your food.
- Okay.
- We'll wait right here.
Take off!
And I think
Robert Smigel plays the guy
just looking like,
"Where did they go?"
Did you see that?
Did you see his face?
Carell's commitment
was beyond 1000 percent
because the veins were--
I thought he was
gonna have an aneurysm.
We screwed him, man!
We screwed him!
Oh, I would actually get
super bloodshot eyes.
Was he impressed by it?
- He was very impressed.
- Yeah.
ABC, I don't know if they knew
what they were getting into,
but the train was
leaving the station,
and, you know,
it was a little bit like...
just what is
this show gonna become?
Here at our DNA center,
Rockefeller scientists
are genetically engineering
the growth of human ears
and other appendages
on the bodies of field mice.
It was all so freewheeling.
We didn't pause to think
about anything too long,
which I think was smart.
You know, what is
this sensibility
that we're putting
together here?
They tore out our hearts!
So we're tearing
out their hearts,
and we're gonna eat 'em!
And what does it mean
on prime time on ABC?
Come on, who wants some?
It's good, spicy, Mexican heart.
I couldn't believe they gave us
all this talent and money
to do the show we wanted to do.
You know, and Dana
actually had the idea
of what if the show
has a sponsor every week?
Lawrence Phillips scores
the game's opening touchdown.
The way bowl games
had bastardized their names
by, you know,
it's the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Getting real sponsors
to pay extra money
to have their name attached
to the title of the show.
Their own nostalgia,
part of it for these
old variety shows.
I grew up with Flip Wilson
and Carol Burnett.
"Chevrolet presents
Red Skelton."
The new Red Skelton Show,
presented by PE Evaporated Milk.
Something that would
semi-mock the idea
of commercials,
so we actually got
Taco Bell to agree
to sponsor us,
and it was the Taco Bell
Dana Carvey Show.
It's the Taco Bell
Dana Carvey Show!
People were very positive.
Everybody on the crew,
like the makeup guys,
the prop guys,
they had worked on the
original "Saturday Night Live,"
so they were like,
"We haven't seen
something like this
in a long time."
The show is March 12th,
Tuesday, what time did we say?
9:30, right after
"Home Improvement."
Check it out, it'll be
the weirdest thing ever
in prime time,
that's all I can say.
I have a feeling
it's gonna be a great success.
- Dana, thank you very much.
- Thank you, David.
You really had high hopes
for this show,
and you really felt like
this is gonna be
a groundbreaking show.
This is gonna be it.
A few weeks later we heard
Disney had bought ABC.
And we were like,
"That's not good, right?"
And, no, we were assured,
"No, no, no, they know,
they know, they know."
And then I remember
Dana seeing, like,
a centerfold of "TV Guide"
like a month before
the show came out,
and it was a big ad
for ABC's midseason shows.
Right in the center of the ad,
around all the other
ABC stars on the new shows,
was, on one side, Dana like this
wearing a blazer
and T-shirt under it
that had been dyed pink,
and then next to him,
Photoshopped together,
was Kermit the Frog.
I remember he came at me
in Carell's office one day
and he opened up
"People Magazine"
and he flipped it open
to that two-page spread.
He's going... like that,
and Kermit's on the other side
of this page going...
like that, and we're like,
"Hey, that's great!"
We don't see anything
wrong with it.
And Dana goes,
"Who's that asshole?"
Pointing at himself.
He goes, "Who is this asshole?
I can't do that show.
What--they think it's this?
And they don't know
what's coming."
The decision on what to do
on the premiere came.
Our first sketch
out of the box
was me, Louis, and Robert.
One of them was
a Bill Clinton cold opening
where he's had
hormonal treatment
and he can breastfeed,
and they wanted to go with that.
And I have to admit,
my instincts were,
"I don't know,
for the first show,
why don't we do
the Oliver Stone
Revolutionary War one?"
Flash to that.
Washington didn't have
a documented coke problem.
This is really...
an amalgam of several people.
Sometimes you have to put aside
specific facts
to get to a greater truth.
Hancock, it's after 4:00.
I remember Smigel
and Louis debating
whether or not
they should start out
with the Clinton breastfeeding.
Is it too much?
Dana was much more,
"Let's really think about
what's the best stuff,"
and I was just like,
"Ah, it's all good."
When the first sketch
came in, I said,
"April Fools is right
around the corner.
This is gonna go great, right?
What's the joke?"
And he said,
"Oh, no, that's what
they want to do."
And that started
what I think I'll call
the longest creative discussion
over a piece of content
that I'd ever been
involved with ever.
I remember the fights
over the first sketch.
Those were happening
the week of air.
We were proceeding
with making the prosthetic
of multiple nipples.
I guess I asked
silly questions like,
"Why do we need
the additional nipples?
Can't we use his nipples
and go for the joke that way?"
No, that's not funny.
And there were puppeteers
with bulbs of milk
actually making them squirt.
Very important.
You wouldn't want to fake that.
It's not funny
if there's not actual milk
coming out of
the president's breasts.
Why would that be funny?
One of the makeup guys
was complaining
about the effect.
He's like, "This is never
gonna make it on TV anyway.
Why are we doing
15 tests on this?"
I remember very heated
discussions with Robert
about not putting
that first sketch on
and Robert sticking to his guns.
Taco Bell thought
it was really funny.
They had no problem
with their name being associated
with Bill Clinton
breastfeeding kittens.
We had that conversation
that networks
are supposed to have
which is the,
"Well, do you let
the creative people do
what they do for a living,
or do you tell them,
as the network because
you're paying the bills,
'No, we are not doing that'?"
We hope that
the audience embraces it
and is ready
for this kind of thing.
This show is for those
sleepy little baby boomers
who have little kids now
and can't stay up
who really want
counterculture humor.
Well, you've got it now, mister!
Thank you!
There was a sort of feeling of,
"No, we're right,
and you're wrong,
and you'll see
after we do this
that people are
gonna love this,
and this is
the right way to go."
Ladies and gentlemen,
the President
of the United States.
Good evening,
my fellow Americans.
As you know,
it's an election year.
Now, my wife Hillary Clinton's
been the subject
of numerous accusations.
Accusations which
I believe are unfair.
But screw it, she's history,
I can't afford her.
I've placed Hillary Clinton
under house arrest.
Now, some of you
may think this is cruel,
but I'm not a cruel man.
I'm the caring,
nurturing president.
And without Hillary,
I can be both father
and mother to our nation.
And this isn't just talk.
I've taken this a step further.
With the employment
of estrogen hormonal therapy,
I have developed
the ability to breastfeed.
The night of the premiere,
we watched it like
at a restaurant bar
with the cast and crew,
and they're showing it
like a film premiere.
"We're the greatest ever!"
All happy, singing and dancing.
I'm doing square dancing
with Steve Carell.
I didn't know there
was any scuttlebutt
in terms of the choice
to lead off with it.
I thought it was hilarious.
Dana, he said,
"Hey, guys, if you guys
have got any vices,
if you like, go to like,
massage parlor stroke joints,
you've got a mistress,
anything like that,
get it out
of your system tonight
because you're gonna be
so famous in one week
that you can't walk down
the streets of New York."
And we're like, "Wow!"
And I remember
Robert and Louis
just hugging
and crying and stuff,
just that the kind of show
they wanted to do.
Louis was like,
"You know what I really like
about this breastfeeding thing?
It's like we've drawn
a line in the sand
right away.
You're either with us
or you're not with us."
And I'm like,
"Yeah, you're right."
It was... the absolute
last thing we should've done
was draw a line in the sand.
Let's just take a look here.
Let me open up my shirt
so you can see
what I'm talking about.
There it is.
There, hungry little baby.
There you go.
We did start with that,
and when you see it in context,
it's just grotesque, you know,
for a prime time
audience with kids.
I will feed the world.
That's right, come on in here.
I can feed babies
as well as puppies and kitties.
But it just became this thing,
like, "Oh, my God."
And of course, Smigel,
who never met an animal
that he didn't want
to put in a sketch,
he's just shoving creatures
at me, more and more.
It's just like a metaphor
to me when I watch that.
Hey, I got--here's something
to make the sketch
more offensive.
That's good stuff.
That's all right.
And kitties too.
Clinton not only
had working teats,
he also had an ass
shaped like a duck.
I've had myself
surgically fitted
with a hen's ass.
He had a duck ass,
and his chair was a nest.
I can give presidential warmth
to these hatching eggs
right here.
ABC had paid extra to get
these minute-by-minute
Nielsen ratings.
And I'm kind of obsessed
with minute-by-minutes
because it's truly
the audience
telling you what they think
with their thumbs.
Somewhere in the first
three minutes of the show,
we had this huge
"Home Improvement" audience
that we inherited,
and it was an insane drop-off.
People ran for their remotes.
We just went...
"Pull up, pull up! I can't!"
And they actually could tell
you about individual states.
It was like, "How's Florida?"
"Florida's gone!"
"Lights out, nothing, nothing!"
Something like
six million people
deserted the show
within the first,
I don't know, five minutes.
In retrospect,
it's kind of remarkable
that we got so many people
to do the same thing
all over the country
at exactly the same time.
I think that might be
the legacy of the show
is just six million people...
like that.
I bought a VCR
just for the Dana Carvey show.
You just kind of knew, like,
"Wow, this speaks so to me,
and my taste is so marginal
that there's no way
it's gonna last."
And so, you had to tape it,
you know, before it disappears.
The next day,
it felt like
we had killed the show
and dug an impossible
hole to dig out of.
For 25 years, I was
a television critic
for the Los Angeles Times.
I didn't like the first show.
I love risk-taking
because if you
never take any risks,
you'll never be great,
but you take risks,
you're always going
to fall on your face.
The show was really
critically savaged.
The one thing I do remember,
the USA Today cover
using the phrase "Dirty Dana."
All of a sudden
there was this outrage.
They kind of painted us
as a cheap, stupid show,
showing breastfeeding,
and like a risque, dumb show.
It was just like somebody
ripping out his schlong
or something and saying,
"Isn't this funny?"
Yeah, the bullets
were coming at me.
I remember it hurt me a lot.
You feel hated and like a loser,
and you just feel--
it's this dark pain,
and you just feel like,
you know, "Why?"
All people wanted
to see was Dana Carvey
doing an impression
of Bill Clinton.
That's all he had to do
was an impression
of Bill Clinton.
But not enough!
Not enough!
We had to be rebels in sweaters.
Later on "Nightline,"
Dana Carvey talks about
his cancelled television show.
We got so much hate mail,
and one guy wrote,
"I'm a conservative,
and I would never vote
for Bill Clinton,
but you do not disparage
the presidency
of the United States."
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And it's like, "Holy shit."
And I read letters, like,
hand-written letters by people.
There was no email then.
You got hand-written letters
from old ladies saying,
"You hurt my feelings."
I mean, I had one letter
that I did open.
It just said,
"Dear Human Scum."
I didn't read the rest.
Stephen and I
somehow got our hands
on some fan letters,
and there was, you know,
a really thin stack of fan mail.
There might've been ten letters.
And then I was reading one
that went on about
how much they loved the show,
and in particular, Steve Carell.
I was like, "Oh, my gosh."
Wow, to be singled out.
And then I looked
at the handwriting,
and I was like,
"Wait a second.
I know this hand--
this is really familiar
And I remember that night,
I called my mom,
I said, "Hi, Mom,
how'd you like the show?"
"Oh, honey, it was so good."
do you--do you know someone
named Constance Koch?"
And she--and there was a pause.
She was like, "Um...
why do you ask?"
Come on!
One of the ten letters
that we received,
and the only letter
that singled me out,
was from my mother.
Wow, wow.
I think the network was
completely shell-shocked.
I think the sponsors
were shell-shocked.
I think it was
suggested rather firmly
that I respond
because there was
phone calls and backlash
and people were worried
about advertisers.
Taco Bell got a million letters
and they announced,
"We are no longer associated
with the Dana Carvey Show."
Taco Bell withdrew
its sponsorship,
which was like cutting
the umbilical cord.
And I remember writing,
"Some will accuse
Taco Bell of timidity.
On the contrary,
they should be lauded
for their good taste
in changing their minds
after looking
at the limp tamale
they were sponsoring
and correctly judging it
to be an artistic Chernobyl."
Here's the thing:
We never intended for Taco Bell
to be the only sponsor
for eight shows.
We were going to alternate.
That was what was gonna make it
fresh and funny every week.
And, unfortunately,
Taco Bell made such
a big grandstanding move
of, um...
By the way, their food
is really shitty.
I shouldn't say that
because I've avoided their food.
I've never tried it.
Is it good?
Not bad?
Maybe it's all right.
Maybe I should try it.
Let's just go with, "It sucks."
From the ABC Broadcast Center
in New York,
it's the Mug Root Beer
Dana Carvey Show!
For the second show,
the message got to me somehow
that I needed to address
the controversy
that was the Clinton teats.
I'm gonna...
No, no, no, no!
This here, no!
Baby here, no!
He did it in a way
that was sort of like,
jokey anyway,
so it wasn't like
a full-on apology.
We were so on the defensive
from the first moment.
You know, from the third
minute, let's say.
GTN, the Gentle
Television Network.
The Gentle News came
from notes that the network
had given us about like
toning down the show
and us saying, "Well,
isn't the news
a lot more dangerous?
Let's see how soft and gentle
we can make the news."
Good evening.
Everything is just fine overall.
Things are just fine.
Tonight's top story:
Today, China threatened
to launch more missiles
toward the coast of Taiwan,
of American intervention.
- Thanks, Sonny.
- Thank you.
I believe that we should
be able to guarantee
our children freedom
from Uzi-toting gang members,
crack cocaine, and hate crimes
in our institutions of learning.
Well said, Bill. Well said.
I expect writers to be nuts,
but they're rejecting
your opinion because,
"Well, look at the nightly news,
it's just crazy."
That's ridiculous.
It's not a conversation.
It's got nothing to do with it.
Yes, awful things happen,
but that's not a justification
for you going way off
the reservation with a sketch.
Finally with an update
on the Menendez Brothers verdict
is correspondent Bob Ross.
Okay, let's just, uh,
add a little bit
of titanium white to that.
Here they are.
They killed their parents,
but they're--
they're friendly folk.
That thing was fucking bananas.
This would not be called
Disney-friendly television.
Not even a little.
I don't know how we
could've changed at that point
because the sensibility
of the team was set.
I think everyone
was on board with that.
Let's just keep doing it.
So we were like, "Okay."
- No change in course?
- No, absolutely not.
It was just like Smigel
had this idea of what it was.
You know, before I knew it,
we were Ambiguously...
What's that sketch called?
The Ambiguously Gay Duo!
Dino Stamatopoulos
came up to me one day
and pitched a cartoon.
He was like,
"Let's do a parody
of 'Wallace and Gromit, '
but beneath the surface,
it's obvious that they're...
having sex with each other."
Like, even I could see
that that was too dirty.
I was like, "What about...
playing off Batman
and Robin's sexuality?"
Superhero duo where everyone,
all the bad guys,
are always suspecting
that they're gay
and debating about it.
You know, this goes
back to the '50s
when comic books
were under assault
by the government.
Batman and Robin were
"pushing a gay agenda."
I had worked with Robert
on a couple of projects,
and he called and said
that he had this script.
I've read funny stuff before,
but I'd never--
I'd never laughed
out loud at a script.
We took a lot of inspiration
from superhero series
of the '60s.
There were these
crazy conversations.
It was him convincing me
that, yes, he could have
a bulge that big
that went down
to the middle of his thigh.
And yes, the back of the trunks
could be riding up
the crack of his ass.
Yeah, just two dudes
fighting crime
with some rock-hard dicks.
It just--we all got
more and more excited
about what this thing
could possibly be.
The first thing I ever recorded,
it was the announcer,
"This week's episode:
It Takes Two To Tango."
And once we get this formula
into the water supply,
Metroville will be mine!
Not even that insufferable duo,
Ace and Gary, can stop me.
What's with those two?
Do they have
a gay thing or what?
I think so.
What--you're crazy.
I kinda see it.
Tracked on 24th and Monroe.
We're counting on you.
We won't let you down,
I knew Colbert would be
the perfect voice
of a typical '60s
cartoon superhero.
Robert's like,
"Could you just work out
like what the voice
might be like?"
So we started going...
"Hello, friend of friends,"
you know.
"Grab onto my belt buckle
with your teeth."
And that Steve with
his high voice would be
a hilarious,
Robin kind of sidekick.
"Gee, Ace, let's go get 'em!
Let's stick it in
and then pull it out!"
Or whatever the line was.
Can we stop him, Ace?
If we work together,
friend of friends.
Let's go!
Robert said that
they should have
a Batmobile type car
and it should look like a dick.
The network asked,
"How much of a penis
will the penis car look like?
And are you suggesting
that the wheels
will be attached
to the testicles?"
The standards people
were really worried about that.
Not only it's gonna be
offensive to gays,
it's gonna be
too sexually explicit.
So it looked like
a dick and balls,
and then it kinda
only worked in my head
if it looked flesh color.
Network color changes
They said,
"You can't paint it
Even though the cel paint
was called "flesh,"
Robert said,
"No, no, no, no, just--
if anyone asks you,
it's peach."
Not so fast, Bighead.
Good work, Gary.
They're finished now.
What's everybody looking at?
Get them!
Can you imagine being,
you know, 35 years old,
and I'm getting to do stuff
that I literally spent time
in the principal's office
when I was
in grade school drawing.
What do we do, Ace?
We'll pull through, friend.
Now what are you looking at?
- Nothing!
- Nothing!
The Ambiguously Gay Duo!
Carell and I were just giddy.
Like, you know, as Dana says,
"They were nobodies."
But we're--
"Hey, we're somebodies now."
Like, this is exciting.
Dana was a little more
open-eyed about this.
Well, thanks for coming
to our meager little show.
I want to thank Pepsi,
pretty good stuff.
That's some weird,
wild stuff, huh?
The show was really hard work.
It was emotionally difficult
because it was--there were
so many problems with it.
Everyone hated us.
Having the family
in Greenwich, Connecticut,
while I was in New York
most of the time
was not the--
Amongst the pantheon
of bad decisions,
that's just one of them.
Of course, he had
the immediate pressure
of the network,
and somebody from the network
moved into the building, like,
they moved in down
the hall, they're like,
"Uh, I'd like to see
those sketches please."
There are now just
people around from ABC
sort of babysitting us,
and there was
a few arguments with them,
and the noose was tightening.
Dana, to me, always was--
his comedy was so safe,
it was for everybody.
Church Lady could get out there
and be a little naughty,
but it was
the most wonderful kind
of acceptable naughty
in the world.
It's not that I didn't want
to do my old impressions,
it's just that we had
so many other cool,
weird things to do
that were new,
and I think that
I get bored very easily.
I mean, the reason
I abstract things,
that Hans and Franz
went from,
"You're a girly man,
let me tell you,"
I got really bored,
then it was like,
"You're a loser."
Same thing with George Bush.
He was just talking like this,
but I got really bored,
then it became like this.
So, you know,
I always needed fresh things.
But I totally get
why ABC would go,
"Well, he was quite a success
on 'Saturday Night Live'
with them there
characters of his.
Maybe he'll bring
a few over to ours,
and then we'll get
the money that they got."
I don't know, they just wanted
to make it more friendly.
Hello, I'm Stu Harberger,
Executive Vice President
in charge of
entertainment for ABC.
We're all very excited
about welcoming Daner Carvey
to the ABC family...
Robert's creation
of the network executive
was absolutely based on
network executives at the time
looking for more like
Church Lady pieces.
ABC's with Disney now,
and our high-powered
Disney lawyers
have managed
to secure the right
to not only the Top Ten list,
but also the Church Lady.
The wisdom was
you want to see Dana
do one of his big characters
that people are
tuning in to see,
and--and they did.
Church Lady's
top ten new titles
for Princess Diana.
Number 8: Her Royal Whoreness.
Number 7:
Lady Di-ing to Get Laid.
I don't know if ABC
really understood
how subversive
the Church Lady was.
And the number one new name
for Princess Diana:
Slut Slut Slut.
I'm not saying that's revenge.
It probably was more
what he was intending
to do anyway.
Internally at ABC,
my bosses matter,
advertisers matter.
When they say, "You know,
we think you're kind of crazy,"
you kind of lose
their confidence.
This week,
in the interest of ratings
and garnering younger viewers,
we have decided
to broadcast live
from the Wild World
Adventure Theme Park...
If there is no line,
you have to just create one.
You have to arbitrarily say,
"Okay, I'm gonna
make a line now.
We're not going over it.
Go back to the room
and write something else."
And, oh, my God, ahh!
Oh, knock it off, George!
For us,
if we changed it too much,
then it wouldn't be
what we wanted to do.
There was like
a doubling-down effort
to see, like,
how over the line
or across the line
can we get.
The nominees
for Best Foreign Language
Animated Short Subject are:
I was Gregory Peck for...
possibly the most racist sketch
ever committed to tape.
Saj Patel for--
I win! I win!
I'm the winner!
I'm the winner!
I want to thank Ching Chong,
Ning Nong, Ning Tong,
and Rex Harrison.
I'm a winner! racist now.
At the time, it was
just good, clean fun.
I played Gregory Peck.
I want to be on record as saying
I played Gregory Peck.
Man, he put the pedal down
and went for it.
And now, Skinheads from Maine.
Nice breeze tonight.
Never cared much for the Negros.
No, me neither.
Okay, that one was
just bold-faced edgy.
We're on a porch
and we've got skinheads,
and we're supposed
to be hateful skinheads,
but at the same time,
super folksy.
Nice sunset we're having.
Yeah, the weather
is the only thing
the Jews don't control.
That's a mind-blowing sketch
where you watch it and you go,
"Oh, my God,
I didn't know I needed this."
At the time, I was
writing for Seinfeld,
working seven days a week,
don't really have any time off,
but somehow I see
this show on ABC,
this--this Dana Carvey Show.
It wasn't until
there was one sketch,
Grandma the Clown.
It's time for Grandma the Clown!
Oh, the days are
rushing by, children.
It'll be over
before you know it.
For me, anybody
who says the show
was too mainstream, I'm like,
"Have you seen
Grandma the Clown?
Because there's nothing
in there for anybody."
There wasn't even
a cast member in there.
We just had this old lady
in clown makeup.
The audience just--
there's just--
you can just hear the tenor
of the kinda laughter,
kinda shock, kinda "What?!"
You know, that was just
a little too dark for them.
What--are you kidding me?
The viewers have no clue
why that's funny.
Every inch of it
was hilarious to me.
Just long pauses
which, for the inside group,
it's, you know,
it's like experimental music
where you go,
"My God, that's great,"
then you play it
on the top 40
and it's noise to other people.
And I fall on the floor laughing
and I hadn't seen that before,
not since at least
the days of maybe Monty Python,
that I went, "I have
to go work for that show."
Now I'm working
on the number one show
on television at that moment.
No soup for you!
But I'm like, "I have
to go work for that show."
Could you scratch
my ankle, dear?
It is a beacon,
it's a lighthouse of comedy
calling all comedy writers,
going, "Come to us,
this is a place
where you can have fun."
I think about a week later,
CA called up and said,
"They're bringing you on."
I remember talking
to the ABC executive
and her immediately telling me
the problems with the show
and, "Thank God
you guys are here."
And I was very confused
about what--
you know, why she said that,
and, uh, you know, I called
my agent up and I say,
"I just had a kind of
a weird conversation
with the executive,"
and he said, "Yeah, yeah,
yeah, I pitched you
as the guys to come
and fix the show,"
and I said, "Well, no.
We're not fixing--
it's not broken.
We're gonna do whatever Louis
and Smigel want us to do,
including get coffee
for Grandma the Clown.
Whatever they want."
And the agent went, "Oh no."
I know Smigel and Louis
weren't talk--
they could care less
about what the network wants.
"Who cares what they want?
This is what we're doing.
They were dumb enough
to let us in the studio
and give us a budget.
Watch out, here we go.
We're gonna blast you."
I trust you're all enjoying
The Dana Carvey Show.
We recognize that
on certain nights,
say Thursday night,
you, the viewer,
tend to prefer watching
non-American BC fare.
Well, we think we've
come up with a new show
that solves this problem.
Hey, you guys, Seinfeld's
gonna be on in a second.
- Ooh!
- Neat, let's watch!
Yes, I love that Seinfeld.
And they watch TV and the
camera's behind the couch
and it slowly pushes
in past them
and it's just an
entire episode of Seinfeld.
Medium turkey chili.
Medium crab bisque.
Of course, ABC hated that.
So you can enjoy the
hilarious Jerry and his cast,
except with our commercials.
And look for our
special episode in January
where you can watch FOX's
coverage of the Super Bowl
right here on ABC.
Make fun of us all you want,
that's what we're here for.
We'll just take you off
the air if we don't like it.
That's correct.
This is like talking
to the captain of the Titanic.
"When they said icebergs
were in the area,
what made you
keep going forward?"
"Well, it's a long story,
but I never--
I always liked ice as a kid."
I do remember that call.
I don't know which
sales executive it was
who said, "What are
you doing with this?
This is a family brand."
I said, "Yeah, I know,
I know, but they kinda know
that there was gonna
be some edgy stuff
and we won't do that anymore.
I'm sorry, we'll be
more careful later."
The Mountain Dew
Dana Carvey Show
will return after this message.
When Mountain Dew
was a sponsor...
...that was the one time
that I can remember
where we actually implied
that there was something
unappealing about
the actual product.
What does that look like?
This, I think,
crossed a line for Dana,
I think it crossed
a line for ABC.
The network seemed
kinda tortured,
but around episode 5 or 6,
we really started
to gain some momentum.
We hit our stride.
It was a show that did have
some loyal, zealous fans.
For the people
who loved the show,
they were possessed by it.
Thank you very, very much!
New York!
I got a lot of letters,
really angry mail,
taking me apart
limb from limb,
attacking me
on a personal level
in a way I had attacked
The Dana Carvey Show.
But among these letters
was one that really stood out,
really stood out.
This is what they wrote:
"You are the worst
critic in America.
Anything slightly
outside the mainstream
probably makes you realize
how fat you are getting,
how little hair you have left,
or how sad and disappointed
you have become in life.
How does it feel to know
you will never again
have sex with a woman
under the age of 45?"
Who would write
something like that?
That--that's fucked up, man.
I mean, that's not cool
to do to somebody,
but we were not cool.
We were angry
and we wrote him a letter.
Cracked a Budweiser
and my buddy sits down
at the word processor
and we just start rolling
and it was like, boom.
We were young
and very enthusiastic
about things that
broke the molds.
We called everything back there
that we thought was cool,
we called it "punk rock."
And this was
punk rock television,
and it was
reviewed very poorly
by a man that we didn't
take too kindly to
because we took it personally.
We had it in an envelope
going to the LA Times
within 15 minutes, max.
And now 21 years later,
I'm talking to you, dude.
- That's weird.
- That letter
really attacked me personally,
attacked my intelligence,
attacked my right
to breathe the same air
as everyone else,
and I looked at that
and I just knew
that I had to come back and
look at the show a second time.
And lo and behold,
instead of being a validation
for my first review,
it just knocked me out.
We started to get
some good reviews
and people would
circle back around,
go, "Wait a minute."
The Los Angeles Times
and at least
a couple other papers
contradicted their first reviews
where they panned the show
with incredibly
effusive reviews.
It was just so hilarious.
I laughed so hard that
it brought on my asthma,
I started wheezing.
The Taftmatic Drow-Z-Boy.
Stop moving
and start living.
I mean, every show
deserves the right
to find itself.
This audience is so nice!
You know who loved
the show was Seinfeld,
and that meant so much to me.
"That's the funniest
show on TV!
What's the problem?", you know?
He was so excited about it.
You hear something like that
from a guy you respect that much
and it's very hard to...
to not keep going, you know?
But ultimately,
there was one problem.
I had never watched
Home Improvement.
When I heard about
the time slot,
I thought, oh, well, maybe
it'll be compatible
because Tim Allen's kind of
a man's man kind of guy
and, uh, seemed like
maybe he's a hip comedian.
He had been busted
for cocaine or something.
I don't know,
is Home Improvement
a little racy maybe, right?
I get your point now, Tim.
- You respect me.
- Huh?
I hadn't watched it
until about four shows in.
I just stopped everything
at 9 o'clock on a Tuesday
and watched it
and just watched in horror,
just... not believing
what we had foisted
on this audience.
ABC Tuesday, a parent's
worst fear: losing a child.
I don't wanna die, Dad.
You never know whose
family it will happen to.
An episode so powerful,
it hits home.
We'll beat this thing,
no matter what it is, you know?
I'm not letting
anything happen to you.
A special Home Improvement
followed by The Diet Mug
Root Beer Dana Carvey Show.
What can you say;
I mean, that just says it all.
That just says it all,
what were we doing?
It was being marketed
as this kind of fun show,
and I think people were like,
"What the fuck is this?"
And I thought about
what we had put on television
following this
family-oriented show
that I now realized
was successful
because kids and parents
could watch it together.
You know, and then
our show would start
and kids and parents...
would, you know,
run for their lives.
That whole show
was just, like,
"Fuck you, Dad!"
"I'm not Home Improvement,
all right?
Fuck you, I like
Grandma the Clown, all right?"
"You might not get it
but that's because
that's your deal, all right?
That's you, that's on you!"
And my dad,
of course, is like,
"I don't like
Home Improvement either.
Why are you yelling at me?"
We lost a sponsor every week.
Sponsors were
bailing out like crazy.
"What do you mean
Procter & Gamble's
not gonna be on the show?
Get outta here,
ah, fuck you," you know?
"Who is it, Colgate?
Well, we don't need
you anyway," you know?
You know, when you bite the
hand that feeds you that hard,
there's a good chance you're
not gonna get fed again.
The only way you're
staying on the air
is to make somebody money.
You gotta make somebody money.
I knew before anyone
officially told me
that, you know,
it wasn't gonna happen.
I mean, how could I not know?
We had a small Chinese
restaurant as our last sponsor.
As the show rolled on,
it became harder and harder
to find legitimate sponsors,
which is, I think, why
Szechuan Dynasty was sponsor.
Szechuan Dynasty was where
we were ordering lunch.
Oh, we'd eat there
all the time.
So I don't know if we
actually got money from them.
And remember,
Szechuan Dynasty
whenever you want
Chinese food in Manhattan.
Thank you, goodnight!
I was pretty sure that wasn't
a creative decision entirely.
Um, yeah, that wasn't
a good sign, I guess.
Excuse me, sir, but it seems
that something
is troubling you.
I remember the thing
that bummed me out the most
was when Carell and Colbert,
toward the end, said,
"We just wanna do this."
Like, "We want this
to be our career."
Maybe the Wizard
can help you!
He's going to help me
and Toto get home!
- And get me a brain.
- And me a heart!
And me the nerve!
The idea that anything
could wrong with this show
made no sense to us.
Look at all these
talented people.
- Look at our star.
- What do you need?
An ass.
A what?
An ass, I don't
have an ass!
You want to see?
No ass, only skin, right there.
But I will tell you
the moment I was sure
that we would be cancelled--
and this is
for everyone out there
who works on a television show--
when you go to the snack drawer
and there's nothing in there,
when for the entire production
it's been packed with snacks
that just keep you
in your office
so you're always writing,
when you open that drawer
and there's nothing in there--
I looked in and I think
with Dino Stamatopoulos,
and he was like,
"Yeah, we're cancelled."
I remember seeing
one of our producers
lying on a couch
and for some reason
that made me feel
really sick to my stomach.
This is a guy I'd never seen sit
and he had his hand over
his head like that,
and I don't know
why I thought,
"Oh, no."
You see, Dana was
seeing all that stuff
because he would come in
and he's like,
"Guys, I'm so sorry
that I've ruined your career."
That's what he would say to me
and Carell, more than once.
"I'm so sorry I've
ruined your career."
I could feel the stress,
like, very quickly.
And I remember, uh,
calling Lorne Michaels
because I just explained
to him, I was like,
"I never quite understood
what you had to deal with."
second-guesses the boss.
I realize now what it's like to
run one of these sketch shows.
It's really hard
to make people happy.
Really hard.
I think we all rallied
to do the last show.
I think our best
episode, number 8.
Like, we were like,
"Let's just put whatever
and we're gonna
go out with a bang."
Probably some people
were thinking,
"Maybe this is
the homerun, the Hail Mary
that will get us
more episodes."
Thank you,
thank you so much.
This, this is our
season finale.
We don't have a lot of time
because we got a lot
of great stuff
we wanna show you.
I just want to do
one quick thing.
This is my impression
of Katharine Hepburn
trying to start her car, ready?
Watch this!
Thank you!
Everyone was really
committed to the tone
of what that show
was and could be
and everybody loved it
and loved each other,
but wanted it to be great.
All right, who are we up to?
We're still on presidents.
Uh, Gerald Ford.
Oh, Ford's in good shape,
he plays golf.
Just covering our bases, Tom.
- You never know.
- I was in a room with Robert
watching the feed
from the CBS News desk
and Dan Rather is giving
Ronald Reagan's obituary.
The cause of death is vague
and he's doing multiple takes.
Gerald Ford
dead today at age 83.
Okay, and, uh,
one for next year, please.
All right.
Gerald Ford
dead today at age 84.
So then we realize,
"No, this guy
is actually just pre-taping
explanations for Reagan's death
so that when he goes
on vacation,
he gets to be the one
to break the news to America.
And then I just
instantly thought of,
"Well, he's gotta do, like,
all these different versions
for, like, various deaths."
Gerald Ford dead today from
an overdose of crack cocaine.
And Colbert immediately
started riffing
hilarious scenarios.
Stunning news from Michigan
as former president Gerald Ford
was chopped into little bits
by the propeller
of a commuter plane.
Like, you would really
want to have included that.
You can't just say he died.
Then we brought in Louis,
who came up with
specific touches.
Gerald Ford was eaten by wolves.
He was delicious.
Gerald Ford is dead today
and I'm gay.
Now wait a minute, that--
What, what, that'd
be a huge story.
Ford dying and you coming out?
But I'm not gay.
Yeah, today you're not gay,
then one day, you know,
you wake up, you like men,
Gerald Ford dies,
and we're screwed.
And it's maybe
the funniest sketch
I've ever been
a part of writing.
We now rejoin the one-man
show Mark Twain Tonight
as performed by STOMP.
Ultimately you care about
the ratings of the network.
So once you have
that responsibility,
in the end, if you're
any good at it,
you will make the tough call
and put on your president's cap
and take off your creative,
nurturer, supporter guy cap.
I was taught by
one of my key mentors
and he said an awful but
one hundred percent right thing,
"When you're dealing
with your producers,
you say, 'I love you,
I love you, I love you,
I hate you, you're cancelled.'"
And they just
literally said to us,
"We just can't afford
to keep you on
after Home Improvement."
So I did take it off the air
for its final episode
and I put on a special
Coach or something.
Hayden still can't
become a dad.
Have you considered
a sperm donor?
- So he recruits the best.
- You're gonna have
Troy Aikman's baby!
Coach, Tuesday.
So they actually didn't
even run the 8th show.
I thought, "Oh God,
the VCR didn't work right."
That's what I honestly thought.
I thought I had
programmed it wrong.
So I have a tape
with fucking Coach on it.
And then because it was '96,
I watched Coach and just...
I sat and watched Coach
and I was like,
"Dauber steps in it again."
I mean, I just felt
like, uh, we blew it
and I blew it
and, you know, I love Dana
and that was very frustrating.
Somehow, because
my name was on it
and this was
my big career thing,
he felt responsible,
and I thought,
"No, no, not at all."
We did the show as a team.
The whole experience
of the show
was kinda like the final
sketch of "Stupid Pranksters."
And now it's time to announce
the winning numbers
for today's Mega Jackpot.
- We won!
- We won!
- We won!
- We won!
My pleasure to present
you with this check
for $16 million.
Oh, uh... could you
just hold that check
just for a second
because we're gonna...
go to the... bathroom.
- That's right.
- Because we gotta go.
Where these guys
are sabotaging themselves
the whole time
and just giddy about it
and clueless about it.
We're throwing the party,
we're kinda throwing the party.
We're kinda laughing,
we're not laughing so much.
We're kinda quiet,
but sorta happy.
And then we realize
what we've done.
After the show got cancelled,
I had to drive back
because I was living
in Greenwich, Connecticut.
It was more snow than any time
in the history of New York.
And finally I got back
and I'm tucking in my 6-year-old
and he says very quietly,
"Didn't see you
a long time, Dad."
Just like that.
So it's like--
cuts you in half.
"Didn't see you
a long time, Dad"?
What the fuck,
he was keeping track?
So I said, "Well,
story time's over.
I don't like your attitude."
The aftermath was, um...
I mean, here you are,
not working again.
And so, of course,
you'll never work again
because when you are working,
you'll always work,
and when you're not working,
you'll never work again.
The wrap party was
sort of where it sank in
because there was just this
sort of funereal feel to that.
It took a little while
to penetrate my brain
but I remember leaving
that wrap party pretty late
and having one of those
New York interactions
where a guy kind of
politely tries to mug you,
and I remember just
saying, like,
"I just got fired"
and then walking away.
And was like, "Well, that's the
last time that's gonna work."
It's very lonely and sad,
you know, when they just
throw the sets out.
They put it out on
the street in the dumpster.
I walked by two days later
and I was kinda
down in Manhattan,
and I look down
and just laying on the street
was this section
of the Clinton teats
taunting me.
I was very confident
in the '90s.
I had had, you know,
a lot of success
writing for SNL,
and then it was only after
The Dana Carvey Show
got cancelled
that suddenly the stakes
became very stressful for me.
Like, what am I gonna do,
am I gonna be blamed for this?
What's my next thing?
And I was able to call
Lorne Michaels that summer.
That, you know, that saved me.
I'm in my apartment
in New York,
I thought everything
was over and done with,
and I'm going to get popcorn
for Saturday Night Live
like I always do and have
done since I was a kid.
And I hear my own voice
on Saturday Night Live.
Can Ace and Gary
escape the deadly pool?
Are they gay?
Tune in next week.
Same ambiguous time--
And I personally was able
to give them work on SNL.
Then Steve and Stephen kept
doing it for years and years.
It started on Dana Carvey Show
and then wound up
on Saturday Night Live.
So it is true what
they say about, you know,
when one door closes,
another one opens.
It was a little bit
of a lifeboat in 1996
when they got to be
Ace and Gary on SNL,
but by the time I was
asking them in 2008,
it was clearly
a favor at that point.
Our four final specials--
- I can't.
- Chicken.
Some producer
at The Daily Show
loved that sketch
and recommended
Stephen off of it.
They said, "Well, what
would we have known you from?"
I said, The Dana Carvey Show.
"What, like what
from The Dana Carvey Show?"
and I said, "Um,
'Oliver Stone in Nixon's.'"
"Hmm, I don't."
"'Skinheads from Maine'"?
"I was in 'Waiter Naus--'"
"Yes, you're hired."
I was there for a while
and then Carell
was now out in the
wilderness without a job.
And I said, "You gotta hire
this Carell guy.
He was the other waiter in
'Waiters Nauseated by Food.'"
They're like,
"Get him on the phone!"
Tonight's topic:
Islam versus Christianity,
which is right?
- Islam.
- Christianity.
So that sketch,
that one sketch,
is responsible for
both of our careers, really.
That sketch is it.
Now if people
had told me in 1996
that in ten years those guys
would be dominating comedy,
I would have said,
"Hm, five years."
That's how highly
I thought of them.
After working with them,
I just knew they'd hit.
I remember the takeaway
as being gratefulness
that it even happened.
I think it gave us
both confidence.
I can do it,
Stephen can do it,
we can be part of
something like this.
Maybe this isn't
the one that's going to stick,
but to this day,
I point to Robert
and to Dana
as the main factors
for what happened
with the rest of my career.
They absolutely
put me on the map.
I mean that's why I'd
do anything for those guys.
Honestly, that was
a huge, huge thing for me,
and I'm--I will do
for either of them--
I will shovel their driveway
and run away without being paid.
I definitely only feel
really good about it.
I don't feel any regrets
or sadness or whatever.
I loved the sensibility
of the show.
You know, it represented me
in a more complete way
than even Saturday Night Live.
After the show ended...
Thank you.
...I went back
to stand-up,
which was incredibly lucrative,
super creative.
That's the thing
I love to do
and it's allowed me
to be a present father.
I had a blast
raising my two sons.
So then I'm back
on Saturday Night Live
and Dana's invited to host
and he wanted to do
the Brokaw sketch
because that was cut
from our last show
and nobody got to see it.
Gerald Ford was mauled
senselessly by a circus lion
in a convenience store.
And it murdered harder
than anything we
had done on the show.
Stunning news from
Yorba Linda today
as Richard Nixon's corpse
climbed out of its grave
and strangled
Gerald Ford to death.
I'm absolutely proud
of, uh, of the show.
I mean, the hardest thing
to pull off with a TV show
is to end it
on one's own terms,
and I do think,
in reference to this show,
in a sort of
perverse way, it did.
I mean, Robert and Dana
and Louis and the rest of us,
whether we didn't know
what was happening or not,
they did the show
that they wanted to do.
Honestly, I think
that's the only way
you find something new
and find something inventive
is if you take a chance.
To be bold about it
and to commit
yourself to something.
It's not always gonna work,
but the bolder
you make your choices,
the greater the upside.
Everybody who worked
on that show was unafraid.
These guys are all fearless.
And we saw that there.
Guys like us, we're not some
brainiacs on the nerd patrol.
We go straight from
the gut, right, sir?
That's where the truth lies.
But it's not just
about a product,
it's not just about
a television show,
it's about relationships
that you're having,
it's about creating something
together with passion
and excitement
and fun, you know?
I miss that kind of stuff,
because one thing I liked
about The Dana Carvey Show
was that it wasn't cynical.
It was absurd,
it was bizarre at times,
it was nonsensical at times,
but it didn't have
an axe to grind.
That's something
that really appealed to me,
is sometimes silly
just for the sake of silly
is all you need
and all you want.
It's just a television show.
That's all it is.
That made history.
Everyone put it aside,
suddenly someone
comes back and says,
"Has anyone seen this trash?
It's not so trashy after all.
Let's call Hulu!"
A total disaster.
Many people--
excuse me--
Dana Carvey Show, total
disaster, total disaster.
Celebrity Apprentice, our
ratings are so huge, fantastic.
That show, not so good,
not so good, okay?
Okay, okay, okay.
We'd like to thank
the many people
who made this very long
documentary possible.
Uh, first, uh, the producers
of The Dana Carvey Show
for fucking up so badly.
It was an honor
following Tool Time on ABC!
You know, I never
cared about the show.
Never meant a thing to me.
And I tell people
everywhere I go,
all around the world,
all the symposiums,
about The Dana Carvey Show.
I say, "It never
mattered a whit to me."
"Go to bed, old man!"
"I'm gonna stay up and
watch The Dana Carvey Show,
brought to you by,
like, fucksticks
or whatever the fuck."
What we were trying to achieve
through a subversive, uh,
was to challenge
the Zeitgeist
of the...
And there, then I said,
isn't that special?
Where's everybody going?
Look at me.
Aren't I a peach?
A funny little clown
in the light,
dancing away into
the dark years.
It was a pleasure
making America laugh
on primetime!
is a groundbreaking network!
And of course,
we'd like to thank
the entire Hulu audience.
Eh, Sharon Harding
of Columbia, Missouri,
Bruce and Katherine Summers
of Elmont, New York,
Melissa Campos
of Chandler, Arizona--
she's actually on the free
trial for Handmaid's Tale
but fingers crossed--
uh, Paula and Howard Kirsch
of Coral Springs, Florida.
we're short on time
so I can't read all 12,
but thank you,
viewers of Hulu.