VIDEO: Dana Carvey and David Spade Talk ‘SNL’ Dream Teams and Getting Ghosted by Johnny Carson
Comedians chat with Howard about their “Saturday Night Live”-themed podcast Fly on the WallFebruary 9, 2022
Comedians, actors, and former “Saturday Night Live” standouts Dana Carvey and David Spade sat down with the Stern Show on Wednesday, bending Howard’s ear about their new “SNL”-themed podcast Fly on the Wall. Debuting earlier this year, their weekly show takes listeners behind the scenes at Studio 8H and features conversations with former “SNL” writers, performers, and guest hosts from Tom Hanks and Conan O’Brien to Chris Rock and Tina Fey. Spade and Carvey were understandably eager to talk about all things “Saturday Night Live” with Howard, from the competitive nature of working on the show to the pressure they felt when returning to host it. They also revealed their all-time favorite cast members with Spade telling Howard his dream team consisted of Dan Aykroyd, Kristen Wiig, Adam Sandler, and Norm Macdonald, among others, while Carvey’s featured the likes of Bill Hader, Phil Hartman, and Jan Hooks. Both men were quick to choose their late, great co-star Chris Farley, whom Carvey described as quite modest with these sorts of things.
“I was sitting next to Farley at one of the [‘SNL’] anniversary shows, and they were doing a montage of Belushi—who’s brilliant, amazing—and … I go, ‘Chris, I think you might be a little bit better.’ And he goes, ‘No! No!’ He got a little bit mad,” he told Howard.
“The one sketch that never disappoints and always destroys me is ‘Van Down by a River,’” Carvey continued. “The commitment of that, the rhythm of that, is so potent … He was supernatural.”
Wayne and Garth Make Amends
In 2016, Dana spoke to Howard about his sometimes rocky relationship with “SNL” colleague and “Wayne’s World” co-star Mike Myers. On Wednesday, Carvey reported the two were now on much better terms. Their relationship had blossomed so much, in fact, he and Spade asked Myers to join an episode of Fly on the Wall.
“We’ve come full circle since I talked to you last. We’ve become very, very close friends,” Carvey said of Myers, explaining their reconciliation process began last year while reprising the roles of Wayne and Garth in a Super Bowl commercial.
“We had so much shared history together riding the rocket of ‘Wayne’s World,’” he continued. “It’s very nice to have a long friendship with someone.”
Dana believed his own maturation was also a contributing factor in their burgeoning relationship. “The only good thing about being old is you just sort of get a little more wisdom, you get a little more perspective, and you practice forgiveness for others and for yourself,” he said.
“That came out good,” Spade laughed.
Ghosted by Johnny Carson?
From Jimmy Stewart and John McLaughlin to Ross Perot and George H.W. Bush, Dana’s “SNL” impressions were always the stuff of legend. Don’t try telling that to late-night icon Johnny Carson, though. As much as audiences loved watching Carvey impersonate the “Tonight Show” host, Carson was less amused.
“He liked it, initially,” Carvey said. “I was hot at the time, so I would go on his yearly anniversary show and sit with him, and then he would show a montage of my [sketches]. I did that for three years in a row … and he was very good about it.”
Everything changed, however, after Dana starred in a sketch that made Carson appear “a little senile.” “I didn’t write that one, and I did put up a red flag with Lorne [Michaels] and others … but that was it. I never went on the show again,” Carvey said.
From what Dana had heard, Carson had grown wary of being goofed on by comedians from his own network. “Johnny would go down the hall at NBC in Burbank and yell out loud, ‘They’re making fun of me now. It’s time to go,’” Carvey recalled.
All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go
Not all of Spade’s “SNL” memories were fond ones. In one presidential debate sketch many years ago, Carvey was tasked with playing both Ross Perot and George H.W. Bush at the same time. Since he was unable to be in two places at once, the show asked Spade to portray Perot for the wide camera shots.
“This is a real raw nerve,” Spade told Howard with a laugh.
“It was the most miserable I’ve seen David,” Carvey agreed. “He’s slumped in the chair. He’s got the bald cap on. He’s got no lines, and he’s one of the funniest people in the world.”
Making matters worse, Spade had completely misunderstood his role in the sketch. He thought he would at least get to test out his Perot impression, so he worked hard to craft one, but they only used him as a stand-in. “We all did the wide shot, Dana did his thing, Phil [Hartman] did his, and they go, ‘Cut! Thanks David, go back to extras holding,” David laughed.
The Hardest Job in Show Biz
Hosting “Saturday Night Live” is sometimes described as the most difficult gig in show business, and Spade and Carvey confirmed as much Wednesday morning. As hard as it was to be a cast member on the fast-paced show, they believed it was even harder to be a guest host who comes in with little to no training and is expected to star in almost every sketch.
“When I came back to host, I was in 13 things and I was shitting my pants,” Spade recalled. “It was too hard. It was too much. And I’d had six years of practice!”
Carvey concurred. “The last time I guest-hosted I had run myself so ragged all week, trying to—in my mind—fix or control the sketches. I felt like [boxer] Joe Frazier in Manila. I didn’t think I could get up off the stool,” he said.
“I believe it was inadvertently one of the first reality shows. So, when you have a football player or a singer try to come in and in five days become a live sketch player, it’s entertaining,” he continued, recalling the time he gave hosting advice to basketball great Michael Jordan. “I said, ‘If you have to, like Christopher Walken does, just look at the card and read it straight off the card.’”
Dana Carvey and David Spade’s podcast Fly on the Wall is out now.