Last night in Beverly Hills, Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, and their Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris reunited for a screening of that 1992 classic, in what has been reported far and wide as a public “burying of the hatchet.” Great comedy doesn’t always come from harmony; Myers and Spheeris reportedly clashed over her directorial and editing choices (as a result, he demanded she not return for the sequel), while tension was high between Myers and Carvey on set, since Carvey — the bigger star on Saturday Night Live — was playing a decidedly supporting role. Their rift is rumored to have widened in the years after their Wayne’s World collaboration (the bone of contention is whether Myers stole his Dr. Evil character from Carvey). But it was all smiles and laughs and good times at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, and while their conflicts weren’t directly addressed, Spheeris recently shrugged off the feuds, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “We’re all getting too old to pissed.” True enough, but comedians have never exactly been known for their thick skin; here are a few of the most contentious feuds between funny people.
David Cross vs. Larry the Cable Guy
When Rolling Stone profiled “Larry the Cable Guy” (the stage name and persona of Dan Whitney), they went looking for an anti-Larry comic to provide a voice of dissent — and David Cross was more than happy to step in. Of Whitney’s act, Cross said, “It’s a lot of anti-gay, racist humor — which people like in America — all couched in ‘I’m telling it like it is.’ He’s in the right place at the right time for that gee-shucks, proud-to-be-a-redneck, I’m-just-a-straight-shooter-multimillionaire-in-cutoff-flannel-selling-ring-tones act. That’s where we are as a nation now. We’re in a state of vague American values and anti-intellectual pride.”
Whitney spent an entire chapter in his book (titled, shockingly enough, GIT-R-DONE) responding to Cross and the “P.C. left.” Of the “anti-intellectual pride” remark, Whitney wrote, “America’s in a state of boredom from watchin’ humorless comedians act like they’re better than everyone else. America’s sick of payin’ good money for a comedy show that only earns one laugh every 12 minutes because the comedian onstage is too busy demonstratin’ how much smarter he is than his audience.” (Note the down-homey dropped “g”s in there. Just Larry the Cable Guy Dan Whitney, keepin’ it real!) Whitney also took pains to note that he was mostly responding to Cross because he “screwed with my fans,” so “it was time for me to say something.”
After the book’s release, Cross responded in an open letter on his website (reprinted in his book I Drink for a Reason). It’s a beautiful takedown, most notable for how Cross uses his own Southern background against his Nebraska-born nemesis. “I do know your audience,” Cross wrote, “and they suck. And they’re simple… Since I was a kid I’ve always been a little oversensitive to the glorification and rewarding of the dumb.” Game, set, and match.