If you ask comedian Dana Carvey if he’s going to add a bunch of jokes about President Trump to his stand-up act, he just might launch into his impression of George H.W. Bush and say, “Nahgunnadoit.”
The former star of Saturday Night Live (with his fantastic characters of the church lady and Garth, not to mention Ross Perot) has given the subject of comedy today — in the age of Trump — a lot of thought. In a fascinating interview with the Daily Beast, Carvey waxes poetic on the current state of comedy, and gives a few pointers for those out there trying to make us all laugh.
Carvey says Saturday Night Live may have gone off the deep end with all its hatred for Trump.
“I do wonder about Trump fatigue. I wonder where it goes. Where Trump goes and where the satire goes. Do you? Like, where’s it gonna go?”
And while Carvey notes that there are some very funny things about Trump (as any president), he wonders why SNL and other comedians target only one side of politics — Democrats are just as funny, right?
“I’m from another era. I’m from, you make fun of both sides and you don’t find a choir and preach to it. I always felt like, well, that’s a short cut,” he says. “I’ve never been a proselytizing comic, like, ‘hey folks, listen up.’ … But it’s different knowing a comedian’s politics. It’s the modern era. Obviously, certain late-night hosts don’t do that and they don’t matriculate.”
Carvey says he doesn’t preach, but seeks to inform.
… [I]n my own stand-up, I’m finding ways to thread the line for certain audiences. I want them all to listen and maybe move people on the left a little this way and move people on the right a little this way. That’s what’s interesting to me. But this is where it’s at now and I don’t judge it. What are we supposed to do? We threw an orange firecracker onto the world stage and it’s exploding all over. The more shrill Trump gets, the more shrill the comedy gets. It’s like a race.
We’re living history live in real time. We’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t know where it’s going, but believe me, there’s smart people at 30 Rock trying to figure all this out — how often to do it, when to do it, how to do it, in what context to do it.
So far, those “smart people” are just going hog wild with Trump jokes. And unlike what Carvey strives for — some insights into the most powerful man in the world — SNL is mean spirited, bordering on vicious.
The Beast asks Carvey for an example of comedy that would work just as well without being over the top. He provides a perfect scenario.
The humor to me is all over the place. It doesn’t always have to be flame-throwing at Trump. There’s funny stuff. Like, for example, Jimmy Carter says he’d love to go to North Korea, right? So that’s funny if he goes in there on behalf of Trump and he’s using Trump’s rhetoric. [As Jimmy Carter]: “Now, I just want to say, little Rocket Man, that we will rain hellfire on you, and they’ll be fury and fire, little Rocket Man, if you don’t compose yourself.” So that’s funny.
It sure is. And SNL could use a comedian like that these days.