Dana Carvey always has a presidential impression handy : Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! This week on "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me," we are back with a brand new show from the Studebaker Theatre in Chicago featuring panelists Josh Gondelman, Skyler Higley, and Paula Poundstone. Plus, we quiz comedy legend Dana Carvey on a subject he knows nothing about in our "Not My Job" game.

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Dana Carvey always has a presidential impression handy

Dana Carvey always has a presidential impression handy

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Dana Carvey Ethan Miller/Getty Images hide caption

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Dana Carvey

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In his seven years on Saturday Night Live, Dana Carvey created more iconic characters than anybody since the original cast: the Church Lady, Garth in Wayne's World, the Grumpy Old Man, Hans (or maybe it was Franz...). He's gone on to movies and TV shows, and like all great talents eventually do, he's become a podcaster.

Peter Sagal: When we have normal actors in the show, I ask them what role they're most often recognized. With every president, Saturday Night Live has one performer who performs that president in their sketches. And you quite famously were President George H.W. Bush. In fact, your imitation was so great that people started associating what you said with him. So everybody, for example, thought he always said that "it wouldn't be prudent." And he never said that.

Dana Carvey: Well, he might have said it once! But I said it a thousand times. After Reagan, I was just assigned George Bush Senior. And Jon Lovitz, he was assigned Dukakis. And then once Bush Senior won the election, Jon Lovitz called me to concede. But initially, there was nothing [to the impression], it took me a year to find a hook on it. And eventually it became a character that was so extreme. But he loved it.

PS: Well, that's what I wanted to ask you about, because you were out there making savage fun of him once a week for his entire term. And he actually loved it. He started doing appearances with you, right?

Yeah, we did charity events, we hung out, he would call me. He called me on Election Day 2004 when Dubya was up against John Kerry, out of the blue. And I just hear a voice go, "How ya doing, Dana?"

Paula Poundstone: What did he want to talk to you about?

I said, "Isn't your son running for re-election TODAY?" He goes, "Yeah, but how are you doing?"

PS: You're well known for so many things, but significantly as an impressionist Do you have an impression of somebody that you're particularly proud of, like no one else does, but you can do this person.

The ones that I did that were the weirdest. I actively wanted to do Michael Caine only because I saw someone else do it and I just thought it was such a cool voice. And one day I kind of got it together, and I called up J.J. Abrams. We're sort of friendly, you know, the director, and I left a voicemail for him, playing it very straight, "J.J., this is Michael Caine. So I heard you're making one of those spaceship shows. I thought I'd put my hat in the ring. I know I'm a bit long in the tooth, but maybe this old geezer's got one more lap around the track."

PS: And did J.J. go for it?

He didn't, but that was a fun toy for me.

PS: Do you have a method?Like when somebody says, "Okay, we want you to imitate whomever, George H.W. Bush," whoever it might be at the moment, like a method for doing it?

I never try to, I don't study them much. When I interviewed James Austin Johnson, who does this brilliant Trump—

PS: I should jump in here. He's the guy who recently joined the cast of Saturday Night Live specifically to do Trump and Biden, he also does.

He's brilliant. So when I sat with him and I was so enamored of his Trump, and this guttural thing he did, that I started doing it. [Impersonating Donald Trump] But I told him, I learned it from him, and Trump talks like this, you can't get better than Wait, Wait. You know what? You gotta wait. You gotta wait because you know you're gonna wait. My only original hook was that he always sounds like he's pitching a family vacation. We're going to be going places like you wouldn't believe. And a lot of people don't think we should go there but don't want us to do it, but we're going to do it anyway and we're going to do a lot of things and you're going to be happy like you wouldn't believe. And it goes on.

PS: We understand that way back when, when you were both doing standup in San Francisco, Paula Poundstone came and lived with you and your wife.

PP: We did live together, and we had this great fantasy about having a pole that went from the living room down to the garage and that we would all just look at each other and go "Tahoe!" And then we would jump on the pole and slide into the cars. And then one night we decided, okay, we really were going to drive to Tahoe and it took SO LONG. Yeah, it turned out it wasn't much of a fantasy at all. It just took forever to drive to Tahoe!

We did stuff you do in your twenties. It was like, we had Old Yeller, [which] was one of our favorite movies or Paula's favorite movie. And we had an Old Yeller pancake breakfast, so we had special pancakes and I guess we had VHS or whatever reason, we watched Old Yeller about the dog dying and ate pancakes. It's just something you do!

This is an excerpt from Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, NPR's weekly news quiz. Have a laugh and test your knowledge with today's funniest comedians. Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or listen on NPR One, and you can find us on Instagram. Want to come out to our live shows at our new home at the Studebaker Theater in Chicago, IL or on the road? Just check out nprpresents.org.