Having developed a remarkable range of comedic creations from years of playing to a handful of people in comedy clubs, Dana Carvey brought his one man cast of characters home to a huge audience on NBCs "Saturday Night Live". In less that two years, such Carvey creations as the "Church Lady", "Ching Change" and "Hans", of "Hans & Franz" fame, have taken their rightful place alongside "Saturday Night Lives" most memorable characters. An accomplished comedy writer and actor, Carvey has starred in OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS, WAYNES WORLD and appeared in such films as SPINAL TAP, RACING WITH THE MOON and TOUGH GUYS.
Born in Missoula, Montana, Dana Carvey hails from a large and close knit family. Raised in San Carlos, California, Carvey describes his childhood as a "typical, middle class upbringing, but since I grew up in the 60s, it wasnt always alls quiet on the suburban front". With a father who taught Business Law at the local high school and a mother whos a painter and musician, Carvey recalls that "although we didnt have a lot of money, we were given what we needed to explore our creativity".
He admits, "Ive always had a natural knack for impressions. Even when I was 9 or 10, I was audio taping television programs and working up imitations like Jonathan Winters doing John Wayne on the moon". Given a drum set at the age of 12, Carvey not only mastered the drums, but further developed his musical abilities when he took up the guitar.
It was while studying Communication Arts at San Francisco State that Dana Carvey first tried his hand at stand-up in a tiny comedy club in Berkeley and acknowledges that "I have 3 or 4 beers before I felt brave enough to go up on stage". Improvising an act featuring stock impersonations of Howard Cossell, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, Carvey was asked to return the following week to perform.
He soon began to hone his act in a variety of comedy clubs and within five months, Dana Carvey emerged as the winner in the San Francisco Stand-Up Comedy Competition. Making a decision to phase out impersonations and phase in characters, he began to flesh out such characters as the Church Lady as his act began to evolve. Querying members of the audience regarding their professions, Carvey responded with the Church Ladys trademark "isnt that special" in what he describes as "the ultimate dismissal".
In 1981 he moved to Los Angeles and soon landed an NBC development deal which took him to New York when he captured the role of Mickey Rooneys son in a short&mdashlived series. Taped on the 6th floor of the NBC studios at famed Rockefeller Center, Carvey recalls that "I was trapped in the role of playing the straight man on a situation comedy. I used to sneak up to the 8th floor and watch Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo rehearsing Saturday Night Live and could only wonder if I would ever have the chance to be funny. It took me five years to go up the two stories, but it is such a sense of fulfillment to be able to show what I can do on national television".
Describing the process of creating his memorable characters, Carvey informs that "they all start with rhythms and sounds. Once I hear the voice and get into the rhythm, the attitude and the physicality just come out on their own. Ching Change, the Church Lady and Hans have a meter and pitch that are distinctly their own.
Now making his home in Southern California with Paula, his wife, Carvey devotes his free time to being a big kid. In addition to filling his house with grown-up toys, he likes to shoot baskets, play guitar and see a movie a day when he in not working.
Balancing his work on SNL with performances in comedy clubs and concert halls, Carvey notes that "when people come to see my stand&mdashup, they get a chance to see my characters interact with each other. I enjoy pushing my characters to the limit. No matter how far out there I go, I look for things that make the characters human. While many comics have a secret persona, I fundamentally want to be myself".