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The Taco Bell Dana Carvey Show
July 19, 2008 2:08 PM   Subscribe

The Dana Carvey Show lasted for only a handful of episodes on ABC in the spring of 1996. but produced more than its share of memorable sketches, thanks to a talented writing staff (with Charlie Kaufman among others), and a cast including Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, and Robert Smigel. Some highlights for the Hulu-impaired: Leftover Beatle Memories - Skinheads from Maine - Germans who Say Nice Things - First Ladies as Dogs - Waiters who are Nauseated by Food
posted by Silune (65 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Skinheads From Maine is genuinely hilarious. There was also a sketch about the Oscars that was incredibly racist, but did feature Stephen Colbert doing an dead-on imitation of Gregory Peck.
posted by EarBucket at 2:25 PM on July 19, 2008


Skinheads From Maine is genuinely hilarious.

"Skinheads from Maine" features the worst New England accents on TV since "Larry, Darryl and Darryl" from Newhart. And I'm not convinced that whomever wrote it has actually been to Maine-- sitting around on a porch is still popular, but as a pastime whittling was long ago replaced by snorting oxycodone.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:38 PM on July 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Waiters... is my favorite Steven Stephen sketch outside of Even Stevphen
posted by OrangeDrink at 2:52 PM on July 19, 2008


Those Liverpudlian accents in the Beatles sketch were terrible as well.
posted by hnnrs at 2:54 PM on July 19, 2008


Yes. My enjoyment quotient was reduced by 12% due to humorously bad accents.
posted by device55 at 2:59 PM on July 19, 2008


But other than that, it was pretty accurate, right?
posted by EarBucket at 3:11 PM on July 19, 2008


I only watched the German one. That's really shit. Put me off watching any of the others, anyway.
posted by handee at 3:17 PM on July 19, 2008


Oof, well, you cherrypicked some nice ones for the YouTube links but I can't get through episode 1.
posted by grobstein at 3:18 PM on July 19, 2008


I think I've seen Steve Carell trot out that "nice German" on 3-4 different talk shows.
posted by luser at 3:19 PM on July 19, 2008


The three I watched seem like kind of funny ideas but stretched out too long and without any specific joke, other than the premise of contradiction, to sustain them. I would have canceled it too.

Nevertheless is was cool to see some now-famous comedians before they hit their stride.
posted by Muttoneer at 3:21 PM on July 19, 2008


In general, we are known for Nor'easters in Maine, not Northwesters.

I'd have to agree with Mayor Curley on the accents and they'd be more likely to want to throw rocks at the French. My mother remembers crosses being burned on the lawn of her French-Catholic church in central Maine when she was a child.

Still, I like Dana Carvey, ayup.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:29 PM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I laughed at every one. Suck it, haters!
The waiters one is great. Even made me a bit nauseous.
posted by chillmost at 3:29 PM on July 19, 2008


Didn't Smigel's "Ambiguously Gay Duo" premiere on this show?
posted by evilcolonel at 3:36 PM on July 19, 2008


"Skinheads from Maine" features the worst New England accents on TV since "Larry, Darryl and Darryl" from Newhart.

With all due respect, I think Darryl's and Darryl's accents were dead on.
posted by Knappster at 3:42 PM on July 19, 2008 [7 favorites]


Why, oh why, can I not stop watching Nancy Reagan as a yip-dog?
posted by Navelgazer at 3:44 PM on July 19, 2008


I remember seeing an episode of this and howling with laughter.

And then Dana Carvey had a kid.

In a hospital and with a non-functioning TV remote, I hobbled across the room in pain with my IV stand to turn off a comedy special of his. Your kid poops, Dana, it's not hilarious.
posted by Legomancer at 3:45 PM on July 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Steve Carell should try another line of work.
posted by Zambrano at 3:47 PM on July 19, 2008


Didn't Smigel's "Ambiguously Gay Duo" premiere on this show?

It did indeed. Also, the last (unaired) episode had the first version of the "Gerald Ford dead today" sketch, which was redone by SNL when Carvey hosted later that year.
posted by Silune at 3:47 PM on July 19, 2008


Didn't Smigel's "Ambiguously Gay Duo" premiere on this show?

I'm pretty sure it's the first place I ever saw it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:48 PM on July 19, 2008


Wow... those were the best bits?

As a general rule, anything where you need a voice over at the start of the sketch to explain why this next bit is going to be funny, won't be.
posted by twine42 at 3:51 PM on July 19, 2008


Thanks for posting this. I've been trying to explain the "Comedy Central Under 5" [episode 2 ~ 7:00] sketch to people for years. Unfortunately, when I try to call someone a "doody head" it's just not that dangerous/outrageous.
Damn, those kids have to be almost college age now. *weeps*
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:57 PM on July 19, 2008


That was a laugh track accompanying those sketches, right? Because otherwise...
posted by t2urner at 4:15 PM on July 19, 2008


(I was trying to insert the sound of crickets chirping...)
posted by t2urner at 4:17 PM on July 19, 2008


Dana Carvey was responsible for one of the most marvelously humiliating experiences of my life.

Before Carvey was famous, he would do his schtick at a long-gone comedy club in my San Francisco neighborhood called the Other Cafe. Many other comedians got their start there too, like Jay Leno (never liked his stuff), Paula Poundstone (very funny, legal problems later), and Jayne Dornacker (utterly brilliant and inspired, moved to NYC with her kid and died tragically a few days later doing drive-time traffic schtick in a helicopter).

I not only thought Carvey was funny as hell, I thought he was completely adorable and had a mild crush on him from a distance. Then, one night, I was walking past the giant picture window of the Other Cafe when Carvey was onstage. I have no idea what he said to the audience, but whatever it was, everyone in the room suddenly looked at me through the window and exploded in laughter.

I'm not sure I want to know what he said.
posted by digaman at 4:25 PM on July 19, 2008 [8 favorites]


I remember this show was actually really scandalous when it came out. Barely lasted five minutes before offending everyone and getting pulled. Looking forward to watching it again and figuring out if it was really funny or not. Thanks!
posted by miss lynnster at 4:29 PM on July 19, 2008


Taco Bell is not funny.
posted by telstar at 5:37 PM on July 19, 2008


The three I watched seem like kind of funny ideas but stretched out too long and without any specific joke

That's and afliction known as SNLS (Saturday Night Live Syndrome).
posted by JaredSeth at 5:39 PM on July 19, 2008


an afflliction
posted by JaredSeth at 5:40 PM on July 19, 2008


"Skinheads from Maine" features the worst New England accents on TV since "Larry, Darryl and Darryl" from Newhart.

You of all people should know that an over-the-top, "bad" accent is funnier than a joyless, boring, accurate one.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:47 PM on July 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is this the same Dana Carvey who made Master of Disguise? If so I'm not watching these until he flies out and personally begs me for forgiveness.

"Pistachio Disguisey"?? My god.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:02 PM on July 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is this the same Dana Carvey who made Master of Disguise? If so I'm not watching these until he flies out and personally begs me for forgiveness.

Steve Martin did Pink Panther (among other clunkers), and Mike Myers did Love Guru. They all have their bad moments. When he's good, Carvey is really good, but this show needed a bit more time to gel. He has had difficulty finding his stride in the last ... oh, ten years or so. Maybe when his kids are grown he can go back to being funny again. Same thing happened to Eddie Murphy, who found a good character in the Shrek films, although his other stuff is still a bit weak, IMO (he wants to be family-friendly now).
posted by krinklyfig at 6:28 PM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


You of all people should know that an over-the-top, "bad" accent is funnier than a joyless, boring, accurate one.

I totally agree with that, but this isn't remotely similar. But that brings up a broader point-- when you're intimately familiar with the subject of parody, you judge it differently than people who have passing acquaintance.

But you must believe me that if it was the native dialect of where ever you grew up, you'd think it was totally unfamiliar and disappointing. But you'd also (like me) be unqualified to say whether people from other areas should find the accent funny.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:42 PM on July 19, 2008


Knappster: "With all due respect, I think Darryl's and Darryl's accents were dead on.

Well, Darryl's was spot-on, but Darryl kinda phoned it in.
posted by RavinDave at 6:43 PM on July 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


my (german) boyfriend loves to quote "germans who say nice things." its so terrible its funny.
posted by ausbürgern at 7:17 PM on July 19, 2008


I have always hated Dana Carvey but I laughed at every one of those sketches (though the first link doesn't work in Canada).
posted by dobbs at 8:38 PM on July 19, 2008


Ugh. I've seen him do that god awful McCartney impersonation a hundred times.
posted by Bonzai at 8:47 PM on July 19, 2008


Okay, now I TOTALLY remember the scandal this show stirred up. First episode, first sketch: Bill Clinton suckling puppies and kitties on his lactating teats.

Yeah, quite a few people didn't like that too much. Especially Taco Bell. Taco Bell was NOT happy if I recall, and that was the beginning of the end.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:00 PM on July 19, 2008


Yeah, he actually predicted the puppy nursing scandal before it even happened at the end of the first episode and then addresses it (and welcomes the new sponsor, Mug Root Beer) after about the 3rd minute in this episode.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:23 PM on July 19, 2008


I remember this show was actually really scandalous when it came out.

The Taco Bell Mug Root Beer Dana Carvey Show was one of--maybe the--greatest gag ever played on TV execs. During the first show I and a friend looked at each other at the same time and said "There's no way this will ever last a season."
posted by octobersurprise at 9:59 PM on July 19, 2008


I remember watching this when it came out, and I really, really couldn't shake the impression that he was honestly trying to see how quickly he could get it canceled. That, to me, was even funnier than any of the actual material.
posted by webmutant at 10:06 PM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


What happened to Dana Carvey, anyway? He still around?
posted by Afroblanco at 12:37 AM on July 20, 2008


I still think Dana was pretty decent as "Garth" too. Bring us another "Wayne's World"! They worked well together. God knows Myers too could use another comic rebound about now, after that abysmal "Love Guru" crap. (What WAS he thinking?)
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 1:13 AM on July 20, 2008


He had a botched heart surgery in the late 90's that required an additional 4 or 5 procedures to correct, so I can understand that he sorta took it easy for awhile.
posted by RavinDave at 1:18 AM on July 20, 2008


Looking at these sketches, I have to agree with WebMutant. Carvey didn't want to do the show. He was daring them to cancel him. He knew they'd cancel him, and he wanted to be as 'in your face' about it as he possibly could be. Where Is He Now? Probably still being black listed by the friends of those he pissed off.

This is kind of the opposite of the Paula Poundstone Show, which I remember enjoying much more immensely than Carvey even though there were only like two episodes. Poundstone did a whole segment once about how shows on the timeslot she'd been given completely fail. She didn't seem to want to be cancelled, but she knew it was inevitable. There was too much evidence of past behavior to prove otherwise.

It's a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. There's someone at a network who is working feverishly to get new and innovative programming ideas into the network, and that person's like at the front gate. Then there's some other asshole deep in the bowels of the network whose job is to not let anything innovative and fun and different last because it might offend some old lady in Arizona who has the network complaint line on speed dial.

However, to be fair, I've never been a big fan of Carvey. Some of his stuff is amusing, but he either tries too hard, or he's doing material that doesn't bring anything new to the proverbial table. I'm sure he's good. He's just not interesting to me. And I'm sure he's a nice person. I got nothing against him. I just don't put him very high on my list of great comedians.

Steve Martin did the remake of Pink Panther. Granted. He also did a host of other works before that which are amazing. Roxanne. All of Me. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. The Jerk. The Man With Two Brains. LA Story. I could continue but I'm already bored listing all the great films he's already done. Suffice to say there's a lot. Although Pink Panther was offensive cuz no one can outdo Peter Sellers, I appreciated academically what Steve Martin was trying to do. He'd earned the right to try Pink Panther. When you build up enough successes, you're allowed to take risks and even fail. He thought he could play the role of Clousseau. He was wrong. No harm in making the effort. I applaud that he had the courage to try, though I question if he should have had the gall.

The only film with Carvey in it that I recall enjoying was the first Wayne's World. I liked some of his political comedy in his SNL days. His Perot was inspired and his Bush Sr is a respectable tribute while still appealing to the left. He does impersonations well. I'll grant that much. The Chopping Broccoli song was funny the first time I heard it. The Church Lady has always been a grating one trick pony of a bit.

I'm sure he's a great guy. He has a family and friends that love him. If he never makes another movie, or if he does, I probably won't notice the difference.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:18 AM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the way, Part Two of Paula Poundstone's first show is simply inspired. You'd think with two episodes I wouldn't have this much difficulty finding the bit where she explained to the audience why she was probably going to be cancelled.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:25 AM on July 20, 2008


Ah! Here it is! Paula explains how her timeslot was impossible to survive in.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:28 AM on July 20, 2008


Wow - this was way funnier than I imagined. Come on, Metafilter - does anybody remember laughter?
No, wait - the sticks are still waaaaaay too deep up all your asses.
posted by ghastlyfop at 7:11 AM on July 20, 2008


there were only like two episodes

I blame her outfit, particularly the pants.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:01 AM on July 20, 2008


Watched Roxanne again lately? I have. It made me wonder whether the chemistry of Earth's atmosphere had seriously measurably changed since I was younger, preventing us from being so easily charmed. Has NOT held up well.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 8:14 AM on July 20, 2008


Martin killed in "The Lonely Guy" ... and i might be the only guy in the country who remembers it. “Soon the primal fire began to burn in Lady Hookstratton’s body. Her hips twitched and trembled as each fireball from Oliver’s powerful cannon erupted like molten lava into the quivering mouth of her ever fluttering love-purse.”
posted by RavinDave at 8:34 AM on July 20, 2008


Watched Roxanne again lately? I have. It made me wonder whether the chemistry of Earth's atmosphere had seriously measurably changed since I was younger, preventing us from being so easily charmed. Has NOT held up well.

"Cocaine is a hell of drug."
posted by krinklyfig at 8:46 AM on July 20, 2008


Dana Carvey is a local guy (San Mateo Peninsula - represent!), and his humor always seemed to be good spirited without being toothless. He's a nice guy whose good at making people laugh. He's not Chris Rock...but then, he's not Rob Schneider, either (another local guy...and I'll leave it at that). I think if it hadn't been for the botched surgeries, his career would have had a more powerful second act.

He's still around, though. He did a fund raiser a few years ago at the local college and blew the crowd away. I hope he manages to revive his career.
posted by mosk at 9:06 AM on July 20, 2008


But you must believe me that if it was the native dialect of where ever you grew up, you'd think it was totally unfamiliar and disappointing. But you'd also (like me) be unqualified to say whether people from other areas should find the accent funny.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:42 PM on July 19


Ayup.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:07 AM on July 20, 2008


He lives in San Mateo? Huh. I'm moving OUT of San Mateo this week. If only I'd known. We coulda done lunch or sumthin.

Okay, I've watched the first three episodes now and I agree with my old self that they were actually pretty funny. I found them more consistently amusing than MadTV or SNL usually is nowadays, that's for sure. I think my personal favorite sketch as of now is Bob Ross as a news correspondent covering the Menendez brothers trial. "Let's give them a friend. A tree. They're going away for a looong time."

As for the sponsors... on the third episode it's Mountain Dew. And there's an entire sketch comparing it to urine. Soooo, yeah at that point he was clearly just like, "Okay, you're gonna get offended no matter what I do so let's see how you like THIS!"
posted by miss lynnster at 9:30 AM on July 20, 2008


Okay, I'm officially in love with the show again now.

I may be sick of his Regis impression, but ya got yer JAN HOOKS, CAROL CHANNING AND TONY RANDALL in Episode 4! That's all I have to say.

Plus... young Colbert rocks.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:15 AM on July 20, 2008


This "show" isn't the work of a man trying to entertain. It's the work of a man who was trying to prove a point. I can respect the point. He wanted to prove to network executives that sophomoric antics had a place in prime time television. He was right, of course. However, he spent so much time trying to be irreverent and wild, he forgot to be funny.

He wanted to bring "irreverent and wild" to prime time. There is a reason why his predecessors on NBC's Saturday Night Live were called The Not Ready For Prime Time Players. SNL was not a prime time production. In the first two minutes of the first episode, Carvey showed then President Clinton being suckled on by babies, puppies, and kittens with the ass of a chicken. Now, one would think with a description like that, it'd be funny. I didn't laugh. No offense, but you guys are easily entertained if you consider these videos amusing.

Many moons ago, I fancied myself a comedian. I strived to be a stand up comic. Then one day, it occurred to me that when I stand up in front of people and try to be funny? I'm not. So I stopped calling myself a comedian, because a comedian has to be funny. I stopped actively perusing a career as a stand up comic, because I felt I could better serve mankind by trying very hard to stay out of its way.

Again. I'm sure Dana Carvey's a nice guy, and if I ever met him in person I'd be honored to shake his hand. I'm sure he has done some great stuff for charity. People adore him. He's very successful. I bet he can cook up a mean omelet.

Dana Carvey doesn't make me laugh. Let's be honest. If you call yourself a comedian, you kinda have to make me laugh for me to take you seriously. I'm sorry to hear he's had "medical issues" in recent years. I'm not gonna start laughing cuz I feel sorry for him.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:21 PM on July 20, 2008


In general, we are known for Nor'easters in Maine

And it was Ben Franklin who figured out they actually come from the south, but are spiraling up the coast giving a moving impression of a northerly wind.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:08 PM on July 20, 2008


From the Mountain Dew Dana Carvey Show, the line about what mountain dew looks like, like liquid sunshine, is a line I still use to this day whenever I'm talking about mountain dew.
posted by zorrine at 2:09 PM on July 20, 2008


Dana Carvey doesn't make me laugh. Let's be honest. If you call yourself a comedian, you kinda have to make me laugh for me to take you seriously. I'm sorry to hear he's had "medical issues" in recent years. I'm not gonna start laughing cuz I feel sorry for him.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:21 PM on July 20


Failed stand-up comic calls amazingly successful stand-up comic and multi-year star of Saturday Night Live "not funny." In other news, British MP Charles Clarke was overheard telling a crowd of supporters that John F. Kennedy was "butt-ugly."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:54 PM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Paula Poundstone looks like a rodeo clown, and is about half as funny as one. Despite his lack of post SNL, I'd say he was one of the more talented cast member during that era. Also, he never seemed like a selfish performer like a Meyers, or Murphy. I wish he'd do more.
posted by onkelchrispy at 4:00 PM on July 20, 2008


I'll probably get crushed for saying this, but I think Paula Poundstone is incredibly witty. It isn't the biting social commentary wit of a Bill Hicks by any means. It's not something you quote in a sig or even remember a day later. Indeed, it's fluffy, gramma-approved, cotton-candy wit -- but she does it very well. Listening to the "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me ... " podcasts, she really has a knack for light observational humor; tying a given topic back to something that was said earlier in that same show and zeroing in on an absurdity.
posted by RavinDave at 4:30 PM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Obligatory Photoshop Disasters link
posted by cillit bang at 5:26 PM on July 20, 2008


Just another fan of the Mt. Dew sketch checking in. I, too, have been quoting it for years.
posted by owtytrof at 12:01 PM on July 21, 2008


The skit from Carvey's show in which Jan Hooks plays Kathie Lee Gifford singing about creationism to a trained monkey is commendable, comedically
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:00 PM on July 21, 2008


OptimusChyme calls ZachsMind a chowder head. Again. Film at eleven.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:59 PM on July 21, 2008


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