Dana Carvey talks impressions, stand-up and gumbo before he stops in BR Saturday

With roles in Saturday Night Live and Wayne’s World to Netflix comedy specials and a podcast with David Spade, Dana Carvey has made his impression on the comedy world. The comedian is also known for being a master of disguise with hilarious characters and spot-on impersonations of celebrities and politicians. 

Though his SNL days are long gone, Carvey says he feels busier than ever with new projects, including a stand-up tour that will make a stop here in Baton Rouge this weekend. He shares that his stand-up shows are more improvisational, meaning each tour stop can get a different yet funny performance. 

Ahead of his show at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel on Saturday, Sept. 2, we got the opportunity to chat over the phone with the Emmy Award-winning actor to talk about his current projects and what fans can expect from his new stand-up set. 

Quotes have been edited for clarity and brevity.

You’ve been an actor and a stand-up comedian. What makes those two roles different? Is there one that you enjoy doing more? 

Stand-up is its own separate lane in show business. It doesn’t compete with anything else. … When you go on stage, it’s usually just a microphone, and I play guitar. I like the fact that I can go away from my outline because I just have an outline, and I don’t write jokes. I don’t do jokes very well, so I like the free association and improvisational part of it. 

Throughout your career, you’ve had some iconic roles, from your movies to your characters on SNL. Which one sticks out as a favorite or most memorable role, and why? 

Well, I think for movies it was just Wayne’s World with Garth. It was very surprising because Mike (Meyers) had invited me to do the sketch with him, and it just kept building, but other stuff was happening for me at the same time, like political impressions and Johnny Carson and so forth. The movie was really low budget and only took like 30 days. We kind of shrugged after the last shot and said “Well, we’ll see what happens.” I was able to kind of write my shtick in that. … That one sticks out the most. I think recently Matthew Broderick said that he gets that he’ll be Ferris Bueller when he goes to the stars. So, I guess I’ll be Garth. I’m also happy to be Church Lady or whoever else they want me to be.

With a comedy career, you spend plenty of time making other people laugh. Who are some people you know that make you laugh? 

Well, Jon Lovitz. We have crazy phone calls that make me laugh very, very hard. But any of my friends from that era like David Spade, Dennis Miller, Kevin Nealon, Bill Hader and all your favorites. My younger peers like John Mulaney and Bill Burr. Who you would think and I also know a lot of comedians from the club days who did really well and were national headliners, but they’re not famous. They’re really funny, like Larry “Bubbles” Brown.

You’re also known for your celebrity impressions and impersonations. Which ones are your favorite to do? Can you share any teasers about new ones we can expect on this stand-up tour? 

Well, I promised that I would learn a Senator John Kennedy because I think he’s hysterical. I’ll do him Saturday night and then I’ll do a Cajun accent, but my favorite impressions are just the current ones. … I also abstract Biden out into a lot of different frequencies. He’s my current favorite to do, and Trump is a close second. But, I’ll start to work on my DeSantis because he’s in the running now. 

Let’s talk more about your current stand-up tour, which is about to stop in Baton Rouge. What else can fans expect from this show? 

Barely controlled mayhem I would say. I like to get a hold of a rhythm or attitude. Then, if the audience is with me, I’ll just keep extenuating it. If I have an outline on yellow-pad paper of where I think I’m going to go, I write at the top, “Don’t be in a hurry, just stay there.” So whatever I’m doing, if I feel it’s hitting, then I’ll do lines that I have in my back pocket. Then, I’ll just keep going. We (the crowd and I) do it together.

How much downtime do you get to explore the cities you stop in? What do you do when you have time to play tourist? 

Generally, I come in the day of or the day before. If my wife is with me, she’ll go to museums and stuff. I did a stop in Philadelphia and she just toured the city. But, mostly, I would maybe do a light workout. I look at my notes, and I might go see a matinee movie. I’m just trying to conserve energy basically, so that when I hit the stage, I’m feeling really good. So I don’t generally have time to be a tourist.

Have you been to Baton Rouge before? 

Yes, I was doing a little tour down there. I did something in Nashville or whatever. I was with a friend from the South, and we drove down and stayed at Baton Rouge. I remember really liking it as a quintessential Southern mid-sized city. Although you do have a pretty big city, it felt very charming to me.

What are some things you’re looking forward to doing while you’re in Louisiana? 

I’d like to try some gumbo because my Southern friend always makes gumbo every year, and it just doesn’t have any flavor. One time, I think we were in New Orleans, and I tried gumbo, just at a diner. My friend was with me on this trip for some reason. I go, “This is delicious. You should do that.” I’m looking forward to having gumbo in Baton Rouge. Then, I want to go to New Orleans and have a battle of gumbo between the two cities. 

Let’s talk about some of your other projects. Tell me a little bit about your podcast with David Spade and other things you’re working on currently. 

Well, we’re both with the same agency and the same managers. The podcast has had such a nice reaction, and it’s all this stuff that we can do. We’re kind of parsing through it. … There’s a production company, that I can’t really talk about, but it’s sort of an online superstar comedy site that we may partner in. We’ll see. Then, there’s stand-up and and shooting specials, and I’m getting tired just thinking about it. Then, going forward with the podcast, we may do some video on the podcast and stuff like that. It’s the busiest I’ve ever been. I don’t really understand it.