It was a little creepy when Dana Carvey and Mike Myers returned briefly as the "Wayne's World" duo on the MTV Movie Awards a couple of weeks ago. The stage was too big, the guys too old, the retro vibe too unironic. But Myers had a new movie to promote, and Carvey had a smaller comeback to call attention to, namely tonight's HBO stand-up special, "Dana Carvey: Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies." And so there they were, in their wigs, partying on.
Yet despite the not-so-excellent time warp, it was really nice to see Carvey again. It always is, even though frequently his material isn't particularly clever or up-to-date. Carvey, who's stayed low-profile in recent years to raise his kids, always looks like he's having a good time working, a kooky gleefulness playing around his eyes even when he's doing one of his impersonations. Really, we don't need to see any comic do another Schwarzenegger imitation ever again, but if we have to, it might as well be Carvey. In his special, tonight at 10, he gives us the governator mispronouncing "California" with enough gusto to almost make the bit seem original.
Carvey spends too much of his hour on the stage directing his humor at Stand-up 101 targets, from aging baby boomers and parenting today to Scientology and strange religions (a riff that leads to the show's title). But he nonetheless manages to bring in one or two more creative and twisted jokes along the way, including Andy Rooney complaining about the logic of a series of crude phrases.
And eventually, Carvey moves into what he does best, political impersonations that walk the line between pointed satire and Saturday morning cartoon. He brings on George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, George W. Bush, and the half-penguin half-man stylings of Dick Cheney, at one point hysterically imagining Reagan plotting out the last two decades of American politics. All of his voices are familiar tricks by now - although his Al Gore, sounding very queeny, is fresh - but he moves among them so joyfully, he's hard to resist. And his riff on Barack Obama's name proves he has an appetite for and an ability with more current political doings. Let's hope Carvey decides to make himself less scarce as the election continues to unfold.