SNL’s ‘Wayne’s World’ Sketches: ‘We’re Not Worthy!’

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Mike Myers and Dana Carvey with Aerosmith in a 1990 sketch

When Mike Myers made his Saturday Night Live debut on January 21, 1989, he was an improv veteran at just 25-years-old, who had joined the touring company of Canada’s renowned Second City troupe shortly after graduating from high school.

It’s notoriously difficult for a new SNL cast member to get solid face time on the sketch comedy series, much less one of the show’s featured (i.e., non-regular) players. It’s equally competitive for a non-topical skit to make it on the show but the likable Myers was able to make an immediate impact with the veteran writing staff and the live audience for many of his offbeat characters, including “Dieter,” host of the fictional Sprockets (a parody of a West German television talk show) and “Simon,” the imaginative little British boy who spends so much time in the bathtub that he develops “prune hands.”

Then there was “Wayne’s World,” Myers’ ingenious parody of low-budget cable access programs in which Myers as “Wayne Campbell” and his sidekick “Garth Algar” entertained mostly themselves with their broadcast on Channel 10 from the basement of Wayne’s parents’ house in Aurora, Ill.

On February 18, 1989, just three weeks’ after making his SNL debut midway through Season 14, Wayne and Garth were introduced to unsuspecting audiences, and soon such catch phrases as “Excellent!,” “Way!,” “Party on!,” “We’re not worthy!,” and “Schwing!” became part of our lexicon.

A new “Wayne’s World” sketch aired just two episodes later and then again on May 13 when guest host Wayne Gretzky’s wife, actress Janet Jones, appeared.

When Season 15 began on Sept. 30, 1989, the skit was in that night’s show. Myers was made a full time repertory cast member several months later. New “Wayne’s World” sketches appeared in another five episodes that season.

One can only imagine the feeling that Myers, born May 25, 1963, must’ve had on the night of Feb. 17, 1990 when guest host Tom Hanks appeared in that night’s skit, joined by none other than the evening’s musical guests, Aerosmith.

“Wayne’s World” was so popular as a nine-minute sketch that Paramount Pictures, the studio that SNL boss Lorne Michaels had a close relationship with, green-lit a full-length feature film. It was quite a coup for Myers, as it was only the second time that one of the show’s sketches was expanded for a movie, and the first since 1980’s The Blues Brothers.

The film, which also starred Tia Carrere and Rob Lowe, featured appearances by Chris Farley, Meat Loaf, and Alice Cooper, among many others. Myers wrote the screenplay with the husband-wife team of Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner. Penelope Spheeris directed. Released on Feb. 14, 1992, it was an immediate success, ultimately earning $121 million at the box-office, becoming the year’s eighth-biggest.

The film provided a whole new life for Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” with the song used prominently in a scene where Wayne and Garth and their pals are headbanging while listening to it in the car. The song was re-released as a single and, incredibly, it surpassed the chart success of the 1975 release, which had peaked in the U.S. at #9. This time, the song went to #2, helping the movie’s soundtrack reach #1.

A 1993 sequel, Wayne’s World 2, was only a modest success.

All told, there were 19 original “Wayne’s World” sketches on SNL during Myers and Carvey years.

There have been several reunions: they reprised their roles in 2011 when Carvey returned to guest host; and again in 2015 for the series’ big 40th Anniversary special.

The pair returned for a 2021 TV ad for Uber Eats.

Unbeknownst to many, Myers and Carvey had been estranged for years. As the latter explained on a Feb. 9, 2022 appearance on The Howard Stern Show, “We’ve come full circle since I talked to you last. We’ve become very, very close friends.

“We had so much shared history together riding the rocket of ‘Wayne’s World,’” Carvey continued. “It’s very nice to have a long friendship with someone.

“The only good thing about being old is you just sort of get a little more wisdom, you get a little more perspective, and you practice forgiveness for others and for yourself,” he said.

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  1. WanderingJoe
    #1 WanderingJoe 25 May, 2023, 23:58

    Ingenious? …maybe. But Myers was pretty clearly inspired by Moranis and Thomas with their Bob and Doug McKenzie characters on SCTV; they were likewise a pair of ingenuous amateurs on cable. SNL got the attention that SCTV (and Canadian humor) never did, even if the brilliant SCTV cast practically all went on to bigger things in the States (like the immortals Catherine O’Hara and John Candy).

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