Many celebrities, politicians and other people in the spotlight have decided to take a step back to “spend more time with family.” But Dana Carvey actually stuck to that commitment.
The comedian and his wife, Paula Zwagerman, have two grown sons ― Dex and Thomas. When they were children, he pivoted from film and television to corporate standup to be a more hands-on dad at home ― and never looked back.
In honor of his birthday, we’ve rounded up eight quotes about fatherhood from Carvey.
On Parenting Multiple Children
“Two kids is more than two. You have to think about it algebraically. If you have one and he’s napping, you’re fine. But when one’s napping and the other one needs constant stimulation, that’s rough. There’s so much genetics involved, and each kid could use a different dad at different times. One kid is OK with a laid-back dad, another one needs a stronger hand. It’s an art not a science. It’s impossible. All you can do is forgive yourself and not be deliberately cruel to them.”
On Raising Funny Kids
“I just adore them and the way they think, and I love hanging out with them. My favorite thing in life is when I see them land a new joke and get excited. That’s so much fun to watch!”
On What It’s Like To Have Children
“You want to know what it’s like to have kids? The workload? Adopt a 100-year-old man who needs 24-hour nursing care. And then find out, ‘Gee my life’s really changed!’ Imagine that saying, ‘Wipe my ass, put on cartoons! You better apply cream, I might get a rash. Guess what, I didn’t like what you made me for breakfast, I threw it on the floor! You better feed me, I might get cranky! I had a bad dream, I want to sleep in your bed! I like to stretch out. Guess what, it’s naked time!’”
On Trying To Balance Work And Family
“The kids were little and they were a lot of work. I did do a movie in Canada when my kids were really little, and we didn’t have a nanny or anything. I’d work all night with Nicolas Cage and Jon Lovitz, go to bed at 6 a.m. and get up around 10 a.m. My (younger) son was sick and my wife was exhausted. I’d play with my (older) son for five or six hours in the basement. … It was really hard to manage doing movies without nannies. We had a lot of emergency-room ear infections.”
On Stepping Back From Show Business
“I moved up to Marin County — my wife wanted to raise the kids near her mom and sister, no nannies. … Corporate stand-up allowed me to make my own schedule and make money as if I was in show business. … Over the years I was offered different daytime talk shows and tons of game shows. ‘Hollywood Squares,’ you name it. But at that point, with the kids in their formative years, I was happy to do what I was doing. … I was away from my kids when they were 6, 7, 8, and I really didn’t like that.”
On Kids In Toy Stores
“They’re like ‘I don’t have that one; I’ve got Megator! That’s Megati! You can tell cause the index finger is crooked slightly differently. Megator, Megati, Megaty, Megatoo. Every time I click it’s $9.95 to you. Now, buy me that useless piece of plastic or I think I feel a tantrum coming on.’”
“The best thing about family is that you have things you care about more than show business. You don’t take it that seriously once you have a wife and children. I see them every day.”
On Parenting Toddlers
“They are energy absorbers at that age. I’d come through the door, and it’s like ‘somebody threw up.’ ‘OK …’ I have single friends with no kids. I always ask them, ‘What do you worry about?’ Because no one’s going to get hurt or go to the ER. And they just giggle.”