Dana Carvey and Dennis Miller performed at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night, and what I expected to hear and see was right on! These guys are on top of their game, relevant, and funny as hell! No doubt, Carvey and Miller, who performed to a packed concert hall audience, did a bang-up job poking at–and never sidestepping–the opportunity to make fun of government bureaucracy in our oh-so-politically correct town of Washington, DC.
Miller took the evening’s lead with his quintessential in-your-face-tell-it-like-it-is style, offering no apologies if he happened to offend your…ah…sensibilities. Miller, who rose to national fame in 1985 as SNL’s hard-smacking ‘Weekend Update” commentator, is well remembered for the catch-line phrase at the end of his segment, “”Guess what, folks? That’s the news, and I am outta here!” Miller was (and still is) an unapologetic critic of political and showbiz celebrities. Miller left SNL in 1991 and, in 1994, went on to co-produce and star in his own show, Dennis Miller Live on HBO, for which he won two Emmys. In 2000, he provided play-by-play commentary for Monday Night Football. Miller is currently a well-recognized force on conservative radio, hosting a daily self-titled nationally syndicated talk show.
Miller gave a no-holds-barred delivery, dissecting such wide-ranging topics as the current crisis in the Middle East, global warming, the economy, technology, the Pope and his own Catholic upbringing, male-pattern baldness, allergies, tattoos, architecture, education, the legal system, new-fangled light bulbs, aging rock bands, Bruce Jenner, gay marriage, single-ply toilet paper, Viagra, and his own dilemma with aging. Using classic Miller-isms of understatement, for which he is known, Miller certainly delivered! Without missing a step, he took swipes at the current political leadership of Congress, President Obama and Vice President Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, John Kerry, Chris Christie, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Even if you’re on the opposite political aisle of Miller, if you managed to sit still during his performance without even as much as a guffaw, you were in the wrong place!
Emmy Award-winning comedian Dana Carvey, whose meteoric star propelled him on Saturday Night Live (1986-1992) for his roles as the “Church Lady,” Garth from the Wayne’s World series, as well as his world-class impersonations of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Regan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have left an indelible, comedic footprint on the world. In 1992 Carvey reprised his role of Garth, alongside Mike Meyers’ Wayne in the blockbuster movie Wayne’s World, followed by the 1993 sequel, Wayne’s World 2. In 1995 Carvey performed in his own one-hour comedy special on HBO entitled Critics Choice ****, followed by a second solo comedy special for HBO in 2008,“Dana Carvey: Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies.”
Carvey was in stellar form this evening, as he started his set with an impersonation of none other than his fellow comedian, Dennis Miller. His wickedly funny impersonations of George H.W. Bush (including Bush’s invitation to Carvey and his wife to stay in the Lincoln bedroom) Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger; his awkward encounter with Microsoft CEO Bill Gates as he tried to entice Gates into doing the Church Lady’s “Superior Dance,” to which Gates refused, makes you think about the minions flailing themselves before their exalted leader, Dr. Gru in the movie Despicable Me. From the erstwhile pharmacist bellowing out prescriptions to embarrassed customers with certain unmentionable maladies; the downright funny delivery of the Indian doctor who delivers you the death knell while still making you laugh about it; a spot-on impersonation of Dick Cheney; the “You don’t know s—t” comebacks from Carvey’s discussions with his 90 year-old father, and the Queen Elizabeth phase of his 88 year-old mother as she tries in vain to remember movie titles, Carvey is spot-on.
Carvey dips into ordinary life as he wrangles with his cable company to order movies and, in his frustration with the automated voice, turns the tables on the live person who answers; his obsession with the British drama Dotown Abbey and the peculiar character he likes to impersonate, “Master Bates”; the scarily-traversed trip with his Catholic-raised wife to Ireland on Aer Lingus including the “I wish department” of Guinness kegs (with drinking straws) supposedly stowed under every passenger’s seat, the highly inebriated captain and his co-pilot; his thoughts on his own Protestant upbringing; his 31-year marriage; and the current climate of parenting versus the child-turned-adult entitlement phase.
Carvey also brought out his guitar, to which he entertained the audience with a Neil Young-ish version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town, along with Carvey’s stunned amazement of how guitar players think their audiences will be enthralled if they change chords mid-way.
If you take a look into Carvey’s delivery of politics, such as President Jimmy Carter’s declaration of “I f—–d up in Iran”; President Reagan’s kick-butt demand to then-President Gorbachev to “Tear down these walls!”; President Clinton’s “be happy” wanderings around the White House; President George W. Bush and his strange misuse of the English language; his hilarious tome on Russian President Putin’s statement of “Hey, It’s not U-Kraine, it’s My-Kraine”; and President Obama’s curious penchant to meander around words without actually getting to the point, sort of takes the sting out of this whole Washington politics thing.
Carvey reappeared on stage after what the audience thought was his last piece. He raucously entertained us with new material about a documentary he saw on China, employing a gibberish of the language to ridiculously explain the overly-exaggerated exponential growth of its villages and occupations, while trying to maintain a straight face with the rest of us. It was pure, enjoyable Carvey, and you can’t get any better than that!
Bravo, Dana Carvey and Dennis Miller! You brought comedy to a laughter-starved city, and in this day and age, we can certainly use it. You brought refreshing reality to real-world situations and every day life. Thanks so much! In the parting words of Garth, “Excellent!”
Running Time: 90 minuutes with no intermission.