Dana Carvey

updated 12/28/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/28/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

I'm just astounded," says Saturday Night Live star Dana Carvey. "People keep asking me if I think I influenced the presidential election." The 37-year-old comedian dodges the question like a seasoned pol. Yet he can't deny that in skit after wicked SNL skit, he won the audience's vote for national court jester. His dead-on, vividly goofy impersonations of syntactically impaired, vaguely gesturing George Bush ("Na ga do it!") and exhaustingly homespun Ross Perot ("Now, here's the de-al, see...") came to seem eerily more real than the candidates themselves. Perot and Bush don't blame him for their defeats, Carvey notes. The Texas billionaire invited him to his election-night party ("He said it would be a hoot," says Carvey, who declined), and the President has phoned him a couple of times and asked him to stop by the White House. "He was incredibly nice and gracious. He said he was a little nostalgic, that we'd been through a lot together. We're just like pals now," Carvey marvels. Suddenly he can't resist switching to Bush mode: "Wonderin' if you're comin' this way, Dana. Come on out. Think it 'd be good. Kinda windin' down here..."

But Carvey, previously best known as SNL's persnickety Church Lady, is still windin' up after a very heady 12 months. "Heady" may not apply across the board, since he was also one of the stars (with SNL colleague Mike Myers) of Wayne's World, the smash comedy (more than $170 million worldwide) about two seriously stupid teens who groove on babes, doughnuts and heavy metal. Too low a concept? Not so, says Carvey: "We took the high road. There were no breasts thrust in my face."

The road only gets higher: NBC has tabbed the boyish Carvey to replace David Letterman in late night if the Great Grump departs when his contract expires next year. (When he last guested on Late Night, Letterman introduced him as "the man who is just a heartbeat away from taking over this show") "I assume someday I'll end up doing a talk show," Carvey concedes. "It could be in six months or 10 years." But he's busy enough already, with three movies filming next year: a Wayne's World sequel; The Bad. Boys, a cop comedy with former SNLer Jon Lovitz; and The Girlie-Man Dilemma, which pumps up the SNL shtick about bodybuilders Hans (Carvey) and Franz (Kevin Nealon). And Carvey still puts in the occasional appearance on SNL, where he has been a regular for six years. ("I won't kill myself to do it, but I want to go on as much as I can.") Downtime is taken up by wife Paula, 32, and Dex, his 1½-year-old son. (Significantly enough, Dex first said "Daddy" while watching Carvey hosting the MTV Video Awards on Sept. 9.) All that, Carvey says with a world-class sigh, "and I'm trying to keep my body fat under 10 percent. It's a real balancing act."

But, he quickly advises, "call my friends. They'll say I'm utterly unchanged by all this, and what a good thing that is. I wish I could change. I wish I had less anxiety and more confidence. I'm as anxious now as I've ever been." After all, he won't have Bush or Perot to good-naturedly kick around anymore. (He does think, however, that Vice President and joke-butt nonpareil Dan Quayle, whom he also impersonates, may have a second life, "and that's something for comedians to be thankful for.") Muses Carvey: "I suffer from the classic they're-all-mistaken-fools-and-I'll-be-found-out-someday syndrome." Not!

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