Bill Murray Told Dana Carvey to Leave the Country to Escape Bad Reviews

The woods are another safe refuge from negative press
Bill Murray Told Dana Carvey to Leave the Country to Escape Bad Reviews

“I made a movie that bombed in 1988,” Dana Carvey told Jerry Seinfeld on this week’s Fly on the Wall podcast. The movie, Opportunity Knocks, was indeed a flop. Critics punished the comic with reviews like “Carvey's a really blank lead,” and “Carvey is no Michael J. Fox. His presence is droopy.” 

Bill Murray must have seen what was coming. In the days before the movie opened, he “very seriously” gave Carvey some advice: “Can you get out of the country? Could you go to the woods?” 

“He's assuming the reviews will literally destroy me,” said Carvey, remembering Murray’s recommendation to hike somewhere remote where he couldn’t access electronics. “But yeah, I got some bad ones.”

Who cares, responded Seinfeld, who professed that, “I love bad reviews. I love them.” Addressing a hypothetical critic who panned his Pop-Tart movie Unfrosted, Seinfeld practically giggled with delight: “Why wouldn’t you hate it? It makes sense! Of course. I didn’t make it for you particularly.”

Seinfeld said comics have a built-in advantage over actors when it comes to bad reviews. “As comedians, it’s not fair because we have Iron Man suits that we wear in show business,” he explained. In fact, that was Seinfeld’s biggest revelation from directing Unfrosted — how different the lives of comedians are from those of actors.

“To have a house like you have,” he told Carvey, actors are “sweating out each gig. ‘I have to kill in this, this has to work!’ Or there could be a downturn. You and I, we don’t think like that. Yes, we want our stuff to work. But you’ve got this metal Iron Man suit that nobody can get off of you. You can go out and work. You can go out whenever you want.” 

The difference between acting and stand-up was “revolutionary to Jon Lovitz when I convinced him to try it. He loves it,” agreed Carvey. Lovitz complains that when he does movies, they edit his lines and cut his part down to nothing. But when he goes to the comedy club, (insert Lovitz voice here), “I do my time, and they give me a check.” Carvey said Lovitz couldn’t believe “the arithmetic thing that stand-up is.”

Seinfeld said the most interesting thing about their collective comedy careers is that they lived through what stand-up was in the 1980s and 1990s to what it is now: “It changed underneath us. And I give Ted Sarandos (the head of Netflix) a tremendous amount of credit for this. He changed who comedians are in the culture. He changed it.”

In fact, Iron Man, er, Seinfeld was totally floored by the good fortune of comics in the Age of Netflix. Or as he exclaimed, “God bless America!”


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