Dana Carvey Refused to Let Robin Williams Anywhere Near the Church Lady

Carvey worried that Enid Strict would need a stretcher once Williams was done with her
Dana Carvey Refused to Let Robin Williams Anywhere Near the Church Lady

One of Saturday Night Live’s most lauded performers just admitted that he was terrified of Robin Williams upstaging him during his most famous sketch — maybe that’s why Williams only hosted the show twice.

In case anyone needed a reminder of just how much of a powerhouse Williams was in the late 1980s, Dana Carvey told a story on the most recent episode his Fly on the Wall podcast about how he wouldn’t allow Williams to perform in the iconic “Church Chat” sketch because he feared that his best character couldn’t hold her own against Williams’ charisma. “I was just afraid of it,” Carvey said of Williams’ unmatched ability to steal a scen. 

Well, isn’t that special?

Carvey’s Enid Strict, known better as the Church Lady, would eventually become one of the most iconic characters in the history of SNL, but when Williams hosted an episode of the show in 1986 during Carvey’s rookie season, Pistachio Disguisey himself was afraid of being downright anonymous on-stage with such a titan. Carvey debuted the character barely a month before Williams’ hosting gig, and he worried that his first break on the biggest stage in comedy would be usurped.

“He was a really good friend, but he really wanted to do ‘Church Chat,'” Carvey told his co-host David Spade and guest Jason Sudeikis. “This was in the early days, this was my golden ticket. And I was very careful.” Carvey worried that Williams’ enthusiasm for the sketch would overflow, saying that “if Robin got so excited,” then the Church Lady could be forced to take a back pew.

Said Carvey of having to turn down such a legend’s request, “It was heartbreaking, but you know we got past that and we were (friends),” saying of his protectiveness of his protestant prize, “In those days, your (character) was very precious. I wanted to keep it quasi-real, in a sense.”

I guess God will decide how real he kept it — we hear the big guy’s not a fan of pride.

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