Today, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert are household names, but there was a time when they were both unknowns just looking for a paycheck. Colbert was unemployed with a kid on the way, as he explained on “Too Funny to Fail”, a documentary about the Dana Carvey Show that I watched only because it played automatically after the movie I watched on Hulu.
“He was the other guy in the nauseated waiter skit!”Stephen Colbert on Steve Carell
Colbert moved from Chicago to New York to take the gig on the show and joined forces with Colbert, where they starred in the show cancelled without its final episode ever airing.
But amidst all that failure gave us two of the best comedians of our time in Colbert and Carell.
And as hard as it may be to believe, there may have been no Michael Scott without this skit:
As Colbert detailed in the doc, he was hired to John Stewart’s “The Daily Show” off the skit. When interviewing, the producers and hiring writers knew none of his stuff from the Dana Carvey Show, until he mentioned the “nauseated waiters” skit, which they immediately decided to hire him upon hearing that. The skit featured Carrell and Colbert trying to get through reading a fancy lunch menu without getting skit, a nod to Colbert’s time as a wanna-be comedian but more often hungover waiter.
Crazily enough, it didn’t just jump-start Colbert’s career. Colbert explained that he thought Carrell was one of the funniest comedians he had been around and had a bright future. Pressing the staff, he told them they had to hire him. The staff asked Colbert “What have we seen him in?” to which Colbert replied “He was the other guy in the nauseated waiter skit!”
And now the “other guy” in the nauseated waiter skit, on a show that almost 6 million people turned off within the first few minutes of the premiere, and was subsequently cancelled, is one of the lasting comedians of my generation.
They have since re-enacted the skit on Colbert’s Late Show: