The Eyes of Texas: Live From Houston, It's Saturday Night?

Dana Carvey and President George H.W. Bush during their Saturday Night Live segment.
Dana Carvey and President George H.W. Bush during their Saturday Night Live segment.

HOUSTON – President George H.W. Bush quipped he wasn't gonna do it, upon reading the script written for his Oct. 22, 1994 appearance on Saturday Night Live. 

It wasn't that President Bush balked at the appearance. No, he was game for that. 


The President's concern called to question his location: Houston, and the venerable program's signature tag line recited during the cold open: "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!"  

For one thing, Mr. Bush wasn't in New York. Secondly, he showed up to record his bit earlier in the week, hence he would not be live when he appeared on the program.

Producers altered the script, and Bush 41 recorded his skit.  

Political satire runs deep in Saturday Night Live's DNA. The program has a tradition of appointing a cast member to impersonate a sitting President. 

Throughout George H.W. Bush's four years as Commander-in-Chief, Dana Carvey served up his finest impersonation of the man pegged the Patrician President. 

Catch phrases, such as "not gonna do it," and "it wouldn't be prudent at this juncture," became embedded in the pop cultural lexicon of the early 1990s.  

Carvey's George H.W. Bush emphasized exaggerated movements when talking –- and came with an accent that's been described as one part Fred Rogers, with a dash of John Wayne.

Even President Bush thought Carvey's interpretation of him was funny, though he said he never thought it was accurate. 

"It's totally exaggerated. It's not me,” declared President George H.W. Bush during his segment for Saturday Night Live. "Those crazy hand gestures, the pointing thing. I don't do 'em."  

President Bush called Dana Carvey's impersonation of him "bad" in that memorable SNL sketch, which was recorded in part by two former members of our KPRC-TV team.  

In this episode of The Eyes of Texas Podcast, the Houston crew reveals what it was like working with President Bush and SNL writer (at the time) Al Franken. We'd reveal more here, but well, it wouldn't be prudent. You'll have to listen.


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More about Episode 8 of Season 1:

Note: George H.W. Bush and Dana Carvey were friends, which is why he appeared on the program that week –- coinciding with Carvey's first time hosting the program.

Here's a link to a New York Times article about Dana Carvey remembering President Bush as a muse and friend.

Al Franken wrote a post on Facebook about the passing of President Bush. It's embedded below.


I met President George H. W. Bush only once – in 1994, when Dana Carvey came back to host SNL. As you may remember,...

Posted by Former U.S. Senator Al Franken on Saturday, December 1, 2018