If laughter adds years to your life, then we all must be 10 years younger after Friday’s Dana Carvey performance at the veterans building.
The Center for the Arts has been showcasing some stellar acts, and this was right up there with the best of them.
After a short opening by Larry “Bubbles” Brown, who claimed, “Someone stole my identity. Now his life sucks,” Carvey jumped right into the evening with local patter about Rough and Ready and Grass Valley, declaring the crowd the “most diverse section of white people he’d ever seen!” calling Nevada County one half Tea Party and one half hippie and thereafter referring to the population as “tippies.” He owned the audience after that.
Carvey, whom I had thought of as a young, funny “Wayne’s World” star, has lost none of his appeal. If anything, 20 years later, he is more entertaining than ever. His routine on being the father of a teenager was laugh-out-loud funny because it hit so close to home. Such child-rearing trials as bed bugs, baths, grades, trips, first-time condom-buying and the knockout “driving lesson” had the audience roaring.
Have you ever stood in line at the pharmacy and cringed as the pharmacist announced over a loudspeaker that your Viagra is ready? Carvey has, and according to him, he loves “just hangin’ out” waiting for the pharmacist to call out over the PA system “pickup for Zoloft, Immodium and Ambien ready for … a nutball with diarrhea who can’t sleep.” (I’d tell you more, but most of the jokes were inappropriate for a family newspaper!)
Emmy-winner Carvey, who has received widespread praise for his uncanny comedic impersonations, moved easily in and out of both old and new. The crowd roared appreciatively for Presidents Obama, Clinton and Bush I and II, former Vice President Cheney, Jerry Brown, Nancy Pelosi, Oprah, a devastating portrait of Arnold Schwarzenegger and a side-splitting send-up of Al Gore as a Broadway diva selling environmental degradation (you had to be there!).
He also recalled the time when President Bush Sr. invited him and his wife to the White House. Carvey recounted that after Bush asked him to do the impersonation of himself, and Carvey hesitated. Bush said, “Do it you little weezer!” then made Carvey call the Secret Service in Bush’s voice all night long, drawing another roar of laughter from the crowd. Other riffs on Indian cardiologists, Irish pilots and Guinness, Neil Young as Santa Claus and Bill Gates drew appreciative guffaws.
Carvey, who is best known for his seven seasons on “Saturday Night Live” and his films with Mike Myers in “Wayne’s World” and its sequel, while paying homage to the characters who brought him the most fame, has moved comfortably into topical themes and was, in this reviewer’s opinion, much funnier in person than he was in any of his TV or movie appearances.
As is the norm now, the vets building was full and the audience on its feet. Carvey, obviously, was both surprised by and appreciative of the sizeable Nevada County reception and returned to the stage after the show to take questions from the audience. In a final bravura performance, he picked up a guitar and improvised a song about the audience that was as funny as anything he had done all night.
The Missoula, Mont., native has remained a top-notch comedian to match any of the greats. And The Center for the Arts, under the leadership of Director Julie Baker, has morphed into a venue for top-drawer stars to rival any San Francisco or New York scene. If you are not taking advantage of this “jewel of the foothills,” go. It’s often the best place to be on a Friday or Saturday night!
The Center and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital have been shaping a collaborative working relationship for several years. According to Dr. Brian Evans, director of the hospital’s emergency department, blood sugar appears improved in diabetics who watch comedies, blood vessels appear healthier and improved immune system responses are associated with humor and laughter. For information about the “Laughter is the Best Medicine” comedy series, visit Center for the Arts website at http://thecenterforthearts.org.
Lynn Wenzel is a Grass Valley resident.