Dana Carvey, the man who gave us The Church Lady, musclehead Hans and slacker Garth Algar on “Saturday Night Live” from 1986-93, returns to TV this week as “expert-in-residence” on USA’s “First Impressions With Dana Carvey.” The show pits America’s best amateur impressionists against each other in a battle of celebrity impressions. Carvey hasn’t been seen regularly in prime-time since 1996 when his “Dana Carvey Show” aired on ABC. Here are five things to know about that ill-fated, but ahead-of-its-time variety/sketch show:
1. The show’s ensemble included then-relatively unknown Steve Carell, Robert Smigel and Stephen Colbert. Louis C.K. was its head writer.
2. The first six episodes that aired were officially titled based on the presenting sponsor of the show, such as “The Taco Bell Dana Carvey Show” and “The Mug Root Beer Dana Carvey Show.”
3. Among the show’s edgy skits was one in which then-First Lady Hillary Clinton was locked in a White House room under “house arrest,” while screaming to be let out.
4. Only seven of the 10 originally scheduled episodes aired before the show was canceled in May.
5. “Doing a variety show in prime time is a tough nut to crack,” Carvey told Newsday in 2013, before a stand-up show at The Paramount in Huntington. “Having it on ABC perhaps wasn’t the best choice. We almost went to HBO.”