Kinder Gentler Humor: Dana Carvey and President Bush

Kinder Gentler Humor: Dana Carvey and President Bush

Kinder Gentler Humor: Dana Carvey and President Bush

If you watch Saturday Night Live these days, you’ll see Alex Baldwin parody President Trump. You’ll also find that it’s not funny, but brutal, which Baldwin relishes. But during President George HW Bush’s years in office, Dana Carvey imitated him in a kinder gentler manner. And it paid off.

They were polar opposites, the SNL comedian and the U.S. President. For example, Carvey was decades younger and inches shorter than George HW Bush. Moreover, while President Bush had been a decorated WWII aviator, CIA director, UN ambassador, and Vice President, Carvey had been . . . well, slacker Garth Algar in Wayne’s World. 

But Dana Carvey, who had become a fixture on Saturday Night Live in the early 1990’s, developed a keen imitation of President Bush. Joe Sommerlad of the British Independent, wrote that Carvey’s parody helped “humanise a somewhat stiff and apparently mirthless politician.”

‘Stiff and mirthless,’ says the British journalist whose next monarch will be Prince Charles. But I digress.

Dana Carvey’s “kindler and gentler” imitation of President Bush got him invited to the White House in 1992 for a Christmas party for Bush staffers. It was also at the end of Bush’s only presidential term. So how did the ‘stiff and mirthless’ Bush treat his imitator?

Think ‘kinder and gentler.’

As Carvey told Conan O’Brien on his late-night talk show in April:

“They welcomed my wife and I to the White House. And we really hung out with them, we really got to know them.”

“We had so many warm moments with them.”

Carvey also got to meet various members of the Bush team, including Vice President Dan Quayle.

kinder gentler dana carvey

Credit: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

At the party, in front of his subject, Dana Carvey went into his comic routine parodying the President.

He started with “Bushisms,” and then began laughing nervously.

“This is very, very strange.” 

But he continued.

After that the former president and the SNL comedian kept in touch over the years, working together on charity events. They also communicated through phone calls and handwritten notes.

Such was the character of a President gracious enough to laugh at a comic who told jokes about him, and the comic whose kinder gentler humor never became brutal.


Feature image: Screenshot from NBC; via Twitter feed.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

1 Comment
  • Bob says:

    Dana Carvey has talent (which seems to have disappeared from SNL), and his schtick wasn’t mean. 41 had class, and appreciated good humor.

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