Jon Lovitz & Dana Carvey Reunited Continues February 3-4, the Foundry.
Let’s not sugarcoat this. Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz, who will be performing one weekend a month through October at the Foundry at SLS, have immense talent. And they'll need it to turn their Reunited show around.
It is almost inconceivable to think these two members who have brought so much to pop culture throughout their careers could put together such a misguided effort, but as Friday's opening-night performance wore on, it became clear that for this thing to work, it’s going to need a major overhaul.
The two stars began the night with a song (Lovitz on keyboard and Carvey on drums) expressing that there wasn't any competition between them despite their efforts to one-up each other with their accomplishments. It’s a good-enough through line that it could have helped carry them in and out of other segments, but after some light banter, it was straight stand-up comedy for the next hour or so.
With Carvey, that’s not a bad thing. The master impressionist still utilizes his laid-back energy and incredible mimicry skills to revamp older impressions (Katherine Hepburn starting a car) and add newer ones to his repertoire (Liam Neeson working at Whole Foods). And while Carvey will always be known for one-of-a-kind send-ups (George Bush, Ross Perot and now a pretty unique take on Donald Trump), it’s easy to forget just how good he is as a joke teller. His take on millennials: "You're not gonna f*ck up your life like the Boomers. You're not going to have a family and a career. You're going to work small, live small. Maybe have some roommates. Maybe own a bike."
At one point, when the two friends were onstage together, Carvey said, "You can’t follow blue," referring to why he went before Lovitz's much dirtier act. Of course, this defeatist theory is bullsh*t, as the 30-year stand-up comic knows. There's no reason that the man who put out last year's critically acclaimed stand-up special, Dana Carvey: Straight White Male, 60, should be opening for anybody at this point.
At another point, when both former Saturday Night Live standouts shared the stage, they wondered how Las Vegas critics would react to the show. Lovitz, almost presciently, blurted out, "The critics will say, 'Dana, it’s funny. But Jon, it stinks'"—a reference to the catchphrase of his animated alter-ego Jay Sherman from beloved prime-time cartoon The Critic.
Lovitz began doing stand-up over a decade ago, but his quirkiness works so much better when he's acting. His jokes sound as if they've been written by an old-school patter writer. Example: "Millenials. I looked it up in the dictionary. It said 'lazy f*cks.'"
His attempts to be edgy—Caitlin Jenner has nice tits, white people can’t say the N-word, erectile dysfunction is the woman’s fault—felt dated and born from a lowest-common-denominator viewpoint. That’s not even taking into account the six minutes of spoof songs claiming Bob Saget is gay. 1. Bob Saget wasn’t there. 2. Who cares?
The question-and-answer portion of the night wasn’t much better, as audience members asked the performers to go on Snapchat and sign cards for family members. It’s an easy fix if the producers just screen questions beforehand.
Carvey, 61, and Lovitz, 59, would be wise to track down a copy of John Cleese and Eric Idle's Together Again at Last show, in which the two Monty Python members demonstrated equal reverence for nostalgia and history while keeping things current. It also would remind the SNL all-stars the importance of structure for this type of show.