Scenes From Dennis Miller, Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon's Saturday Night Show, Live From Allen.
On Saturday night, a near-capacity crowd at the Allen Event Center was treated to a special, one-night-only engagement featuring comedians Kevin Nealon, Dana Carvey, and Dennis Miller.
Yes, those Saturday Night Live guys. All these years later.
Things have changed plenty since these three first team up on SNL in the late '80s: Nealon has gone on to success as an actor, playing a lead role in the Showtime series Weeds; Carvey has mostly faded into the backgrounds, save for a recurring voice actor gig on the Nickelodeon animated series The Fairly OddParents; and Miller has been all over the map, popping up for a short, much-maligned stint as a color commentator on Monday Night Football before settling into his current, lucrative position as a conservative talk radio show host.
So it's safe to say, heading into Saturday night;s showcase, that there were questions about what exactly the offering might entail. This much was made known to members of the press in advance: Each comedian would perform a 25-minute set, and that would be followed by a group Q&A set to take place at the end. Beyond that? Not much information was available.
Maybe that was for the best. The element of surprise, after all, plays a strong role in the art of comedy.
And Nealon, a one-time Weekend Update anchor himself, if not as famous for it s Miller, certainly used the surprise factor to his advantage. His set just worked, in large part because it was intentionally awkward. It was also leisurely, conversational and, really, very natural in feel. Of the three comedians performing, his was the one that came closest to the true, pure form of stand-up comedy. He reprised his adored “Mr. Subliminal” bit, interacting wit the crowd as he did so and earning laughs for digging on Arlington for being “white trash.” Nealon also scored with a long story about crop-dusting Jack Nicholson — because, let's face it, farts always have been and always will be funny. And he closed his set with another reprisal, too, as he welcomed Carvey to the stage and the two exchanged some quick Hanz and Franz banter, much to the crowd's delight.
In his own set, Carvey offered up basically what was expected of him. He's one of the all-time great impressionists, and, as such, that was the focus of the bulk of his set. His Obama impression? Just as spot on, turns out, as his more-familiar takes on presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Ross Perot, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, plus former vice president Dick Cheney. It was a frantic, non-linear collection, and it was loosely connected, if at all. Not surprisingly, though, the crowd ate it up, right along with his set-closing take on Sean Connery.
Miller followed, and, it should be noted, he was the only comedian to read from notes on this night. Perhaps that's note surprising; the guy makes a lot of obscure references throughout his comedy. Always has. He's the smartest guy in the room — according to him, at least — and he always has been. Saturday's set was no different, as Miller's conservative rants proved a perfect match for this largely suburban audience. His bit referring to ObamaCare as “a constellation sized goatfuck” netted Miller the biggest laughs and applause of the night.
But more laughs were in store, too. After Miller's set, Carvey and Nealon joined him on stage for their Q&A session with the crowd, which Carvey largely owned, thanks to an acoustic performance of “Choppin' Broccoli” and a story about a joint he once shared with Lorne Michaels and Paul McCartney.
After all was said and done, the crowd left satisfied, entertained and wanting more. Politics aside, these guys remain today just as funny as they were decades ago.
And let's be real: This one could've gone either way.
The fact that it didn't, that this show was so well done, that it was such a good time?
Well, I'm Hampton Mills. And that's news to me.