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DHP on Late Night with Conan O'Brien

Late Night (TV program - NBC) with host Conan O'Brien     May 5, 1994

Conan O'brien: Our first guest tonight plays Frasier Crane's brother Niles on the NBC hit sitcom "Frasier." Let's take a look.

Shows clip from "Frasier Crane's Day Off" (the "there's no blaming mother today" bit)

CO: It's a pleasure to welcome David Hyde Pierce

David walks out wearing beige dockers, black crew neck jumper and a black jacket, shakes hands with Conan and Andy.

CO: Hey, nice to meet you.
David Hyde Pierce: Likewise, nice to be here.
CO: Thank you very much for coming.
DHP: was actually watching your show.....I watch your show every night of course but I was
CO: Thank you, thank you, Polly
DHP: Yes, but I was especially watching it to prepare for coming on...and I was watching Tuesday night and you wasn't Bianca Jagger but her name sounded like that it was like Binaca...
CO: Anka.....she writes a column about sex....she talks a lot about was a very sexy segment
DHP: Well, here's the thing it was....she had written a book and it was all about kinky sex and on the West Coast she had just got into the discussion....they were sort of making jokes back and forth.....what's the book about.....she finally got into it...what we're talking about is......and NBC came on and said we interrupt this programme to bring you a special bulletin...and it was the signing of the peace treaty in the Middle East.
CO: They interrupted my show!
DHP: Yes
CO: For trivia like that!
DHP: Well and I....that's what I....I threw a shoe at the television and said...come on.....where are your priorities. (Conan laughs) so, and then we watched them do their thing in the Middle East.
CO: Sign their accord
DHP: And then it cut back to you and you were saying ' Well, at least the food was good'.
CO: ( Laughs) Oh, you missed the best part
DHP: Well, I'll never know.
CO: Yeah, it's lost for ever
DHP: It's peace in the Middle East so I guess that's OK.
CO: That's more important, yes, I think so.
DHP: I guess that's OK that's more important though
CO: Yes, I think so....listen, that was a funny clip (from Frasier Crane's Day Off), we show a lot of clips on the show, people coming on to promote something and that was a funny clip. It's a funny show.
DHP: Thank you! That actually turned out well. That's the first time I've seen that because we shot that months ago and we have recently recast the show since then but it was nice being on the show for a while.
CO: I understand this part was tailor made for you, the producers knew you. Is that true?
DHP: That's kind of true, they didn't know me and someone brought me to their attention and they said, 'David Hyde Who?', 'Oh, what the hell', and so...but then....they weren't going to have a brother character to start with and then they saw me and sort of wrote one.
CO: Are you like that? Did they get those vibes from you? That uptight guy?
DHP:'m not really like that, they are just not very good.
CO: They are not good at capturing your essence?
DHP: No, but it's a
CO: You are catching on my friend, that's my attitude.
DHP: I'm actually not that....not like.......not like him very much although the more I play the character the more I become more like him so it's a little...a little scary but........
CO: You were playing a very well established character's brother, did you watch lots of "Cheers" episodes and study Frasier and figure out how to play his brother?
DHP: Yeah, like, like, Late Night, of course, I had always watched Cheers.
CO: Boy, you are good! (audience cheers) you will have sold me a car by the end of the segment (laughter)
DHP: This is, (aside to Conan---you need a car?---Conan: Yes, I do) I have to say this is, actually, my first talk show.
CO: This is?
CO: Andy hug him. Andy always hugs someone new (David hugs Andy....cheers from audience) A ceremonial hug!
DHP: The reason, the reason I mentioned that is that you all applauded before and what I love about talk shows is when the audience applauds, people go on and they say, 'Conan, you look great tonight, doesn't he look great tonight (audience cheers, Conan waves, gets up and bows)
CO: And people just tuning in, think you just said something really hilarious.
DHP: That's right, that's right and the other good one is that 'In my spare time Conan, well actually Conan, I devote my time to saving tiny homeless people (laughter)
CO: You are catching on, you are catching on so fast.
DHP: And this is my last talk show too.
CO: No, no, you'll be back, you'll be back (shout from audience) one guy turned on you in the audience, don't worry. We'll have pages escort him to a closer seat. Now, you are new to this though, you have caught onto a lot of the are new to it.....are you enjoying this success?
DHP: Of course, of course, it's incredible to be on a hit television show but it's......the recognition factor is weird and dealing with must be, I think, similar for you, it's like, you watch somebody for a long time...(Conan interjects,' People think I'm Ralph Malph from "Happy Days" and ask 'where's Potsy?')(audience laughter)
DHP: People think I'm Kelsey so it works out OK.
CO: Is it something that's hard to adjust to.......I know it's a little weird.
DHP: I started out being antisocial.....aggressively antisocial, not being mean but old women would come up and say, 'Are you on "Frasier" 'and I would say NO!!!......just because I was nervous and gradually I got used to it and I got a little better and now I go to people's homes and ring their doorbells (laughter) "Have you seen me?"
Andy Richter: "...I'm on your TV set."


CO: Oh yeah, we're back. I'm here with David Hyde Pierce and I think he's a terrific guy, don't you? (to audience, sarcastically) I, too, learn quickly (cheers from audience while David has a drink from a mug). Like many actors you've done a lot of theatre and traveled, you've done a lot of theatre in many different countries?
DHP: Yeah
CO: Where have you been?
DHP: I've toured the world... I've been to New Haven.
CO: Man, what is that like.....I've heard stories
DHP: Well, they don't speak the same language but they understand if you speak
CO: And it's a different currency.....
DHP: I did a play, The Cherry Orchard, a Chekhov play we took on tour to Russia and Japan and they actually didn't understand what we were saying.
CO: Do you have to know their language? How do you overcome that barrier?
DHP: Well, we now know that we should have learned their language
CO: (laughs) They thought the scenery was beautiful.
DHP: You would have thought that it occurred to us before we went but it didn't and when we were in Japan we were doing this Russian play, The Cherry Orchard, in English and we were doing the play...we had started....and we would hear this 'ping' from the audience and it would start out with this ping...then another progressively more pings through the play and we didn't know what it was so we had a scout go out and sit in the house and find out what it was....well....the translation of this play that we were doing n English was broadcast over airwaves and each of the audience, the Japanese audience had these high tech hand held receivers that they would hear the translation and there was no carpeting on the floor so as an audience member would fall asleep (laughter from Conan and the audience) they would drop the transmitter.
CO: Oh no.
DHP: We had an actor, Erland Josephson, who is literally one of the greatest actors of all time, a Swedish actor, like a Swedish Jim Varney...(laughter).
CO: Wow, he's the Swedish Ernest.
DHP: He had all these big speeches and literally he would open his mouth and it was like a rain forest and people were, ping, ping....... so that was bad.
CO: And then you went to Russia....I know people who say it's like a whole different world.
DHP: It is, unfortunately, or fortunately it's a lot different now, we went right before the, uh.. uh... the borscht hit the fan there....(Conan laughs)....I was trying to find a network word I could use. Back then it was under the Communist system, like if you'd go into a restaurant, the service people there were paid whether they worked or not, and so in order to get them to come and serve you, you would go in with a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, can I say that on television? Marlboro cigarettes?
CO: Yes, they pay you one hundred and fifty dollars (laughter)
DHP: Or Salems or Kingstons
CO: You just lost it!
DHP: I don't smoke!! I don't smoke!!
CO: Kingstons?! You are $30 in the hole now.
DHP: Alright, alright, you take your cigarettes and put them on the table and you would not give them to the waiter because if you gave them to the waiter he would just take them away and smoke them and you would never see them but you put them on the table so everyone knew that there were cigarettes in the offing and then they would come and they would bring you your food and at the end of the meal you would pay and then you would give them the cigarettes.
CO: You would bribe them just to get them to wait on you?
DHP: We actually had the lighting designer went out to eat at one restaurant and he could not get served and he had cartons of cigarettes.....and I don't know what the deal was and he then started taking plates and dropping them...they would smash....(imitating this) and he would wait and no one would come over and he would take another one, drop it and the person he was having dinner with (holds head in hands) and finally the waiters came but they would not pick up the plates, they stepped over the shards of broken crockery and took his order, they stepped over them. They would not clean up.
CO: So you've seen it all.
DHP: I have.
CO: Actually I have a friend who went to Russia and he said...of course, they get was before they get paid whether they wait on you or not and he went to a giant a hundred tables literally and nobody......nobody was eating there, it was completely empty. He went there and didn't have a reservation so they didn't wait on him. That's true, they just said 'No', they didn't have to, they get paid either way and why would they want to wait on you for and they had a hundred tables. Was the food good there, by the way?
DHP: Umm, if you like beets (laughter) then that is the place to go.
CO: I LOVE beets.
DHP: That is the place to go. They had a meat that was called shashlik, I think that was what it was called, it's been...
CO: Tried that today.
DHP: Well.....and nobody knows what it is, it's shashlik and whatever restaurant you go to they serve it and in fact, the hotel had a restaurant and they had a special menu of 'today's special', printed up every day.....a new menu......every single day.....different foods on it, none of which were ever available, the only thing you could ever get was shashlik and we decided that shashlik was the Russian word for 'Spot' and it was like dog they were serving (laughter)
CO: I'm sure it was
DHP: Yeah
CO: But they have beets, and if you like beets you should go to Russia.
DHP: Beets and vodka.
CO: That's the ad they should have. Listen, it was really nice meeting you, it was nice talking to you.
DHP: Thank you. (shakes hands)
CO: Congratulations on the show (Cheers) Very funny. David Hyde Pierce! Very funny guy. We'll be right back.


(This transcript is courtesy of the fabulous Michele.)

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