Before Carvey and his cohorts hit upon the idea of a boundary-pushing primetime sketch show, however, the star was briefly seduced by the opportunity to host his own talk show. The late night boom of the early ’90s was heralded by the stepping down of longtime “The Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson, resulting in not only many comedians vying for a gig on that program, but joining forces with other networks as they sought to take talk show glory for themselves. That’s how you get the disaster that was “The Chevy Chase Show,” folks!
Carvey was a little more savvy than his fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum, though. Rather than pitching a new talk show, he found himself in the running to replace Carson’s rival, David Letterman, back when that host was stepping away from NBC. As Robert Smigel recalled in an oral history of “The Dana Carvey Show” back in 2011:
“At one point Dana was talking about replacing Letterman. He had been offered that, and he wanted me and Conan [O’Brien, who eventually did take over for Letterman on NBC] to work for him on that show. He was red hot and had gotten a lot of offers after he left ‘Saturday Night Live.’ But he wasn’t interested in the grind of a talk show, ultimately.”