Steve Carell’s new movie Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day hits theaters this week, and he’s also generating Oscar buzz for his portrayal of John du Pont in the upcoming film Foxcatcher. All of this has made us think back to 1996, when we first saw Carell as a cast member of The Dana Carvey Show. He was part of a stunning comedy dream team that also included Stephen Colbert, Robert Smigel, Charlie Kaufman and Louis C.K.
Despite all that talent, ABC pulled the plug on the show after airing only seven episodes. Most everyone involved now admits that opening the first episode with a bizarre skit where Bill Clinton nursed baby animals from his teats wasn’t a great move. The whole show was just a little too bizarre and subversive for prime-time television, though it’s gained a cult following over the years and is now widely recognized for having one of the greatest writing rooms in the history of television.
In one of the best recurring bits, Carvey and Carell played a pair of idiots that repeatedly failed in their quest to screw people over. In this one, they purchase two movie tickets, but run away before actually getting them, convinced they had pulled a fast one. Then, they shovel an old woman’s walkway and take off before they can collect the $20 she promised them.
Three years after ABC yanked The Dana Carvey Show, Carell was hired as as correspondent on The Daily Show, though his career didn’t truly take off until 2005, when he landed lead roles in The Office and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. One became one of the most beloved comedy movies of the decade and the other became one of the most beloved sitcoms of the decade. Oh, that guy who played the ticket taker in this skit went on to become pretty popular as well.