David Letterman Interviewing David Hyde Pierce

LETTERMAN: Our next guest plays Niles on the very popular television program "Frasier". Please welcome the always-engaging David Hyde Pierce. David.

(Paul and the band play music)
(David comes out, shakes Dave’s hand and sits down)

LETTERMAN: Thank you for being back on the show.

PIERCE: I'm very glad to be here.

LETTERMAN: Nice to see you, sir. How's everything, buddy, alright?

PIERCE: Things are good, things are good. I saw you had that Bette Midler here.

(Audience laughs)

LETTERMAN: Well, we didn't have her here, she was a guest.

PIERCE: Seat's still warm actually.

LETTERMAN: Had to be warm for quite a while.

PIERCE: I think so.

LETTERMAN: And you know her? You've worked with her?

PIERCE: I just did a picture with her this past summer.

LETTERMAN: Good for you. What was it called?

PIERCE: Yes. It's called "Isn't She Great", and she is. And it was, it's a biography of Jacqueline Susann.

LETTERMAN: Jacqueline Susann, author?

PIERCE: Yes. Bette plays Jackie and uh, we had -- we had a good time. You know when you work with the big stars, there comes a point where you have to kind of let them know who's boss.

(Audience laughs)

And so, really, from the first day I called her boss.

(Audience laughs)

LETTERMAN: And how'd that go? All right?

PIERCE: It went ok.

(Audience laughs)

LETTERMAN: Good for you.

PIERCE: Yeah. We were able to work things out. We had a good time. All the people in Canada.

LETTERMAN: How are things going lately? What have you been up to other than working on your television show and the film you did and so forth.

PIERCE: That's right. The callisthenics. Um, I did a -- I did a benefit for a playwright's festival. A friend of mine was writing a playwright's festival and I agreed to do a benefit. Which I thought was a good thing.

LETTERMAN: I think so. You have to give back.

PIERCE: That's right. And I work, you know, I do, you know, different charities, Alzheimer’s Association and a lot of stuff like that. But this was a new thing and I thought I'd do. It was a play reading. Bunch of great people, Larry Hagman from "Dallas".


PIERCE: Yes, he was. And he was now in the reading.

LETTERMAN: Now when you do a reading, it's the words of the play --


LETTERMAN: ...and actors, but it's not the scenery, not the costumes.

PIERCE: No, you're sitting in chairs like this.

LETTERMAN: No choreography, no staging, nothing.

PIERCE: No. As much as you want to, no. You just sit there. And I played a, one-eyed jester.

LETTERMAN: A one-eyed jester.

PIERCE: A one-eyed jester. I know, you're sick of those plays.

(Audience laughs)

And in order to sort of convey that to the audience they gave me an eye patch. You know an eye patch that you get at a drugstore. And we did this benefit, it was in a high school auditorium. And it went very well. We did the first half, intermission we're all sitting in this classroom waiting for the audience to get back. And this beautiful woman sticks her head in the door, now we're all sitting around and I'm talking with Larry and the gang and we're talking mainly about my eye patch. Because it's weird doing a thing with an eye patch, it's throws off your balance. And we're talking about is this a real eye patch? or a prop eye patch? what exactly is it? This woman works at the festival sticks her head in, a gorgeous woman, and she's put on an eye patch. You know, obviously some sort of homage to whatever the play is that we're doing.

LETTERMAN: A little icebreaker, a little –

(Audience laughs)

PIERCE: A little thing like that. And uh, she sticks her head in the door at intermission and says "Well, it's going real well." And I said (in pirate accent) "Oh, thank you. It's another pirate. Oh, thank you pirate lady it is going well, arrr."

(Audience laughs)

And she says "Well thanks very much." And she left and then there was a pause and Larry Hagman said "You know, she's lucky to be alive." And I said (in pirate accent) "Aye, in these waters she is."

(Audience laughs)

And he said "No, no, she was in a terrible accident."

(Audience laughs)

And I -- what were the chances,

(Audience laughs)

Of all the things in the world that an eye patch -- And she came back in and I apologized to her and she was extremely sweet and very funny about it. But I'm taking this opportunity to apologize on national television. Because I was completely humiliated so --

LETTERMAN: That's pretty good. That's something I would do.

PIERCE: It's like, I never say bad things about people and when I ever do, they're always standing right behind me.

LETTERMAN: That's right. It's like you're on top of the world and the success is the first half of the play and then the next thing you know, unwittingly, you're the largest boob on the planet.

(Audience laughs)

PIERCE: And I broke into a flop-sweat, literally. As soon as he told me that, I just --

LETTERMAN: Well good, I'm glad you cleared that up.

PIERCE: I feel a little better.

LETTERMAN: How are your dogs doing?

PIERCE: (makes face) Oh, you know.

LETTERMAN: What's the problem?

PIERCE: Well, there was a grooming incident.


PIERCE: Yeah. We've all had them. No, it was, I have, you know, two dogs, Emma and Mabel. And uh --

LETTERMAN: You like one better than the other, is that what it is?

(David Hyde Pierce makes shushing motions. glares at Dave, audience laughs)

LETTERMAN: Boy is my face red.

PIERCE: Oh that's great. That's great. Thank you. I'm gonna go home now.

(Audience laughs)

No, well they -- we got a new groomer, it's a mobile, they come by in a van.

LETTERMAN: Come right to your home.

PIERCE: They come to the home, you throw the dogs in they come out groomed.

(Audience laughs)


PIERCE: It's nice. And you don't want to get too close 'cause you know you could same fate as -- So they go in and Emma, the older dog, comes out and she's gorgeous.

LETTERMAN: That's the one you really love.

(David Hyde Pierce glares at Dave, audience laughs)

PIERCE: Me and the dogs are now going to be in therapy for like, two years.

(Audience laughs)

And Mabel, the younger one goes in and she, her hair was matted or something. They had to shave her like down to the bone and she comes out looking like, you know, a stick with a dog head on it.

(Audience laughs)

And, dogs ...dogs are like people. When they're upset, when they're embarrassed they show it --

LETTERMAN: That's right.

PIERCE: By peeing on your bed.


(Dave and the audience laughs)

I didn't know that. Just like people.

PIERCE: Yeah, yeah. So -- and even -- and getting out of the house like to come here it's the same thing. Because they get very upset i.e., peeing on the bed when they know you're leaving. So if they see the luggage, that's a bad thing. So, I'm in my house like literally, I've closed all the doors to the bedrooms. I've got the suitcase in another room. I have like a pair of pants, I walk out of the bedroom with a pair of pants "Oh, look, I found a pair of pants. I think I'll put it in this other room over here." And then I go in and I've got music playing so they can't hear the zippers on the suitcase.

(Audience laughs)

And as I'm opening things I'm like (coughing, miming opening suitcase). Of course now they're watching and they'll see this and like, there goes the beds again.

(Audience laughs)

LETTERMAN: Ah, everything good on "Frasier"?

PIERCE: (makes face) Eh...

(Audience laughs)

LETTERMAN: You're on Thursday nights.

PIERCE: We are.

LETTERMAN: After they fired that Seinfeld.

(Audience laughs)

PIERCE: That's right. We got rid of him. Things are going very well on "Frasier". Yeah, we're having a good time. I have a pet peeve. Which is one of the other networks shows this reality programming. You know what that is?


PIERCE: That's the one. (Glares at Dave, audience laughs) Well, anyway they show this, you know, it's like videos.

LETTERMAN: Well, it's the lowest, it's the worst. It's crude.

PIERCE: Pets attacking and people being hit by trains and stuff.

(Audience laughs)


PIERCE: But it gets under my skin, but people are watching. So I'm thinking like we're going to maybe tease the dog more on our show, see if we can get it to be vicious and attack someone.

(Audience laughs)

LETTERMAN: I'm sure that will pay off nicely if that works. David Hyde Pierce, ladies and gentlemen. Good to see you sir.

PIERCE: Good to be here.

LETTERMAN: Nice job. Thank you for being here again.

(Audience applauds)

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David Hyde Pierce
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February 15th 1999
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