When he left Saturday Night Live in 1993, Dana Carvey was at the top of the entertainment industry. His new sketch-comedy show on ABC would be bolstered by rising talents like Louis CK, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell. What could go wrong?
Everything, obviously. Hulu’s new documentary Too Funny to Fail examines the almost instantaneous collapse of The Dana Carvey Show, a would-be smash that began with Carvey impersonating President Bill Clinton … while breastfeeding puppies. Carvey wanted to move past conventional comedy to edgier, more surreal stuff, even though, as Colbert tells the audience, “all people wanted to see was Dana Carvey doing an impression of Bill Clinton!” Carvey’s show was both an incubator of talent and a precursor to what would come later. Today its absurdism would fit right in online. Too Funny to Fail is a fascinating story of just how much risk Hollywood was willing to accept back then.
Too Funny to Fail is now streaming on Hulu
This appears in the October 30, 2017 issue of TIME.