Well, isn't that special? Catching up with Dana Carvey before he hits Tampa Theatre March 7

The SNL vet and human chameleon has a few new bits up his sleeve, including his own Obama impersonation.

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Well, isn't that special? Catching up with Dana Carvey before he hits Tampa Theatre March 7

The perpetually baby-faced Dana Carvey is nearing 60 but nowhere near slowing his roll. Known primarily for his stint as Garth in Wayne’s World, Ross Perot/George H. Bush impressions and the recurring characters The Church Lady, Hans (of Hans and Franz) and Lyle the Effeminate Heterosexual. The Emmy-winning ’80s-’90s SNL favorite is back on the stand-up circuit and is stopping at Tampa Theatre on Fri., March 7, at 8 p.m.

Since leaving SNL, he's raised two sons and has helped launch the careers of some of today's biggest names via his short-lived sketch TV series. More recently, he's been flooding the YouTube waves with experimental and just plain mental comedy shorts. Onstage, he's still got it. A recent review of his Vegas show said the star was “relaxed, and his material was funnier than ever.”

CL enjoyed a likewise casual, amusing and candid interview with Carvey by telephone a few days before his arrival in Tampa. He muses on the world's first phone sex conversation, glitches of the Information Age, the existential popularity of Justin Bieber and perfecting his Obama impersonation.

My teenage VCR mixtapes included one of my favorite sketches of yours,  where a British pop star is belting out "Chopping Broccoli" at the piano.

I don’t know why other people like it so much. What’s the joke about — a guy chopping broccoli? I don’t know. [laughs] ... A lot of times I play in clubs, and sometimes they have a piano there. It really came from improvising, I think at the Improv in Hollywood, is where it finally came together one night. I think it’s just from hearing that lyric, “She’s cold as ice,” but I can't remember what song's that's from. That's kind of what started me with the song. "She's cold as ice, paradise, and the feeling was so nice." ... I added, "She's my little lady, my teeny tiny lady, I mean really teeny tiny, Kelly Ripa tiny."...  Now I do it with guitar. I've done different versions of it. Once I get to "Chopping Broccoli," I'll do different sorts of scats and improv around that motif. ... I'll probably do a version of that in Tampa. There are certain things that are kind of like fun for me to do because it's different every time. [Here's a vid of Jimmy Fallon and Carvey singing the tune together.]

Between "Chopping Broccoli" and your Fred Armisen fake band stint, music comes up a lot for you. Would you ever consider a music side project?

Oh, yeah. If someone said all I was allowed to do is sit in a room and write and record music, I would be so happy. ... I just completed "The World's Catchiest Song," which is a homage to the Beatles. We just have to make a funny little video. Just to put it out there. ...[recites lyrics] "This is the world's catchiest song. You're going to be singing it long after I'm gone. This is the ca-ca-catchy part that you can't get out of your head. This is the ca-ca-catchiest part you're going to be singing long after I'm dead." 

Is it one those Beatles tunes with baroque instrumentation and thick harmonies?

We have a complete Beatles sound. I have a friend who's a recording engineer, and we have harmonies and a whole hook, everything we could throw in there. So I'll release that soon but, yeah, I love anything musical —guitar, drums, piano — just love it all. I'm not gifted in that area at all, but I really do like it. And I can make it funny, so that makes it okay. People say, "You're a pretty good guitar player" — yeah, for a comedian.

What are talking about on your latest tour?

I do have a new bit I really like, about how men abuse new technology for perversion fairly quickly. Because of smartphones, Rep. [Anthony] Weiner Tweeted everything into the cloud for eternity, and that was just his bad luck. I basically do a sketch of the world's first phone sex between Ma and Pa Kettle. Pa goes into town and sees one of these new quote 'newfangled talkaboxes' and calls up Ma — "I got the chicken and the coffee like you told me, and I was walking by the Five and Dime and saw one of those lady mannequins dressed in nothing but her underthings. Ma, it got a man to thinkin' — what kind of pantaloons you got on today?" ...

I also talk about self-destruction a lot and just anxiety, stress. I talk about how medicated our society is. I use whatever tools I have in terms of changing my voice and hitting rhythms and modulating things. The topics might be a little edgier. I don't think people notice because the package is sort of sweet. Seinfeld can be pretty edgy too but you don't notice because he's Jerry and he's smiley, but you don't notice he's being kind of subversive. Some comics you notice because that's their brand and they can be pretty dark and blue.

Missed a little bit of that last part. 

Yeah, I'm all hearing every third word. But I can hear what you're saying. That ... say ... um ... brr .. comedy. That's an example of something that's funny to me only because when do you decide to hang up when you get a connection like that? I'm hanging in there. I hear every second word. You're like "nnn ... lunch ... Saturday." Then when it's every third word, and you're throwing in the towel and saying, "Okay, I'm calling you back." ... Ah, I gotta write that down.

You were somewhat popular in high school and ran track. But you also mention that were a loner.  Please explain.

I was extroverted in fourth grade. I had a year that I was really confident, and then I went dormant. Then I was extroverted in seventh grade, and then I went dormant. In high school I joined track and cross country. I never took acting or theater and just made my running buddies laugh. I never went to a football game or dance. Never had a girlfriend. I was just developing myself as a comedian with my friends on these long 20-mile runs and didn't know it. I'd be doing Star Trek bits — "They're traveling faster than the speed of light and they're in a battle with a Klingon ship, and yet the captain has to look at a TV screen like he's on a pirate ship — steady, steady, fire all phasers." How does he know? Shouldn't it be computerized at that point? He's looking at a TV screen and traveling the speed of light. He's ... "looking, looking, fire!"

You "went dormant" for a bit when your sons were born in the '90s. Are you a bit of an empty-nester now, getting back to doing more comedy?

I never stopped. I could make my own schedule with stand-up. ... But, yeah, they're older and show biz has exploded and fractured into a thousand little pieces. It's probably the greatest time in history times a thousand for me. My head's exploding with the possibilities. I do have a prime time show in development. Don't know if I'll do that, but in the meantime I've been shooting some film, experimenting with the Canon. There's all kind of ways to shoot your own sketches and stand-up specials. It's a new golden age for someone like me — a middle class kid who saved all my money. It's a big toy store now. ...I'm just coming back now to be wealthy and famous to do cool things and how they go. I've got five different things bubbling along right now. You know, we live in an era where you can be a non-famous, famous person — like my friend Mark Pitta, who opened for me in Vegas. No one knows who he is but he's really funny. I introduce him as a famous person and the audience accepts it. I'd say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, he's just finished his seventh season on the hit sitcom "I've Just Had Enough of You" on the Yours and Mine Network." And they buy it, right? ... Dennis Miller is doing a stand-up special for Epix. A lot of people have never heard of it. ... I may be doing my best work ever but I don't know how many people are seeing it. If you have a million fans locally, there are still 7 billion people who don't know who you are. It's a little bit existential in a way. Even with Justin Bieber, there are probably 5 billion people who aren't concerned with him on the planet. Maybe 2 billion are obsessed with Justin Bieber, I have no idea. ... I'd be happy with a million globally — that's my goal. Then I'll have 7 billion that won't pay any attention. Everything's going to be side by side in the cloud anyway for eternity, until the sun explodes.

What would you tell fans that they might not know about you? What's different about you now from your days at SNL?

I'm very conflicted, eclectic person. I'm very driven yet also very introverted. I care so much about the work. I've turned down almost everything and then was humiliated when it didn't work out. I'm very proud of the show I did on network television [The Dana Carvey Show, 1996] but it was too edgy, you know. I'm proud that Louis C.K., Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell have done so well from that show, so a lot of things like that, but I would say to people that I'm a lot more mature. I do a lot more political stuff. ...

Your imitation of George H. Bush on SNL is legendary? Any notions of tackling the current prez?

The New York Times challenged me to try to do Obama in a satirical way that people would not be uptight about. My Obama now is really starting to work. I just wanted to find my own take on it. ... I think Obama has a funniness about him. I do some different types of rhythms. I take it a little more exaggerated than SNL. I do these long rants about how he positions the opposition in a clever way. [launches into bit] "Republicans want Americans to fend for themselves, but how is grandma who can't even remember to take her blood pressure pill going remove her own gall bladder? How is a baby going to feed himself. Is he going to go into the woods with a bow and crossbow and hunt a wild boar? He can only say goo-goo, ga-ga." ... Not trying to be completely realistic. There are many Obamas — Obama addressing the nation, when he's very much more contained; in the gymnasium;  Obama on the defensive or giving that long stare. Some of the bits I tried to do a couple of years ago and they didn't work, but I think work now and I plan to do them in Tampa Bay.

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