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DHP on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

THE TONIGHT SHOW (TV program - NBC) with host Jay Leno November 27, 1998

It began with an ad at 11:15, with Jay Leno standing with his "All male revue. Including the handsome David Hyde Pierce" (DHP looking at the camera with that funny little smile of his, he gives a kiss just before the camera stops filming.) Henry Winkler and Penn & Teller are also guests.

Ok, here we go. DHP was wearing black pants, a black shirt with beige and red plaid stripes (with the top button undone) and a black blazer. His interview lasted about 13 minutes and he sure did a whole lot of talking in that time; my fingers are tired! It also included a clip of "A Bug's Life".

Jay Leno: My first guest stars on the hit NBC comedy "Frasier", the very funny David Hyde Pierce. (Commercial break)
JL: My first guest plays Dr. Niles Crane on "Frasier" which airs every Thursday night at nine o'clock right here on NBC. He's also the voice of Slim the Walking Stick in the new film "A Bug's Life". Please welcome David Hyde Pierce.
JL: Good to see you again.
David Hyde Pierce: Hey there. Happy Thanksgiving.
JL: And you too. Happy Thanksgiving to you. We were here today with our sliced turkey loaf yesterday. You got to stay home?
DHP: Yeah, I was home. I had a, uh, a California Thanksgiving. My sister came over and some friends and we had the traditional pilgrim and Indian pool party.
JL: Oh, pilgrim and Indian pool party? How traditional is that?
DHP: I know, I'm from the East Coast. I'm not used to that stuff. But it was fun, you know, we had lots of friends. So people brought food and it's, it's not...
JL: Right.
DHP: ...what you're used to getting. But it's, it's surprising.
JL: Right. It is different when people bring nachos to the Thanksgiving feast.
DHP: Yes. Yes. You know, yeah. You get into that... That's right, we had instead of squash this year, someone made a fiery yam soup.
JL: A fiery yam soup?
DHP: Yeah, well. Remember the freezer burn you were talking about? (audience laughter)
DHP: We, we actually aunt had a recipe for stuffing, we found this in my mom's recipe file. An old recipe for popcorn stuffing.
JL: Popcorn?
DHP: Popcorn stuffing. It was, uh, uh, a cup of popcorn
JL: Right
DHP: ...and 2 cups of bread crumbs, and a stick of butter and salt and pepper. And you heat the butter and you put the popcorn and the bread and the salt and pepper and you mix it in. Stuff it in the turkey, put the turkey in the oven at 350 and the last line on the card says "Turkey's done when its ass blows off." (audience laughter and clapping)
DHP: We don't think anyone in the family's ever made it, or at least no one lived to tell about it.
JL: No, no. "A Bug's Life" is getting great reviews isn't it?
DHP: Huge. It's just, who saw it? Has anybody seen it? (some audience clapping and cheering)
JL: There's people out there that saw it.
DHP: What were the rest of you doing? What are you doing here? (audience laughter) No, it a really good movie. It's a fantastic movie.
JL: Now did you do the, uh, the press junket? Explain to people what that is. It's a nightmare.
DHP: I know, well, "junk" is the operative word. It's uh, no, the press junket is like when you, when you see uh, someone being interviewed and they're talking about their movie. What you don't know is, they have sat . . . you've done this right?
JL: Yea.
DHP: From 9 in the morning till 6:30 in the evening. In the same chair, talking to 750 THOUSAND interviewers who all ask the same question. They come in like one every 6 minutes.
JL: Right, right.
DHP: So it looks like you're seeing, you know, an individual segment. But in fact, it's been done all day. So you can actually, this is uh, a hint for people at home if you want to play this game. When you're watching an interview there's subtle differences between one that was done at, say, 9 in the morning and one that was done closer to 7 at night. Like, we're always asked the same question. So if the questions is like, uh, you ask me, uh, um "How are you like your character?"
JL: How, how are you like your character in "A Bug's Life"?
DHP: Nine o'clock in the morning: Well, interesting question, uh, certainly in some ways I'm very much like the character and in other ways Jay, I think I'm different. Ok. Now we're at seven o'clock. Ok?
JL: Let me ask you, how was your, how similar are you to the character you play in "A Bug's Life"?

DHP stares at JL, nasty look.

DHP: Go to hell!
JL: I can see how that would be.
DHP: So, when you see that interview, you'll know that was, that was later on.
JL: You know it does make me laugh because I have seen like a million of those. They put you in the chair and the light, it's like you're being interrogated. Because the camera guy's got the light and I had one once, the first question was: What is a Jay Leno?
DHP chuckles, smacks fist in hand.
JL: And you go, well, and you kind of answer it. Like, I remember when I took over this job, I did like, a couple of hundred in two or three days. And they're waiting, and each reporter hears the last reporter's questions. And they actually think, they go, that was mine, and they cross it out. This one goes "How did you get started?" And I said "In Boston, in clubs." And the next guy comes in and he goes "How did you first get started?" And I said "In Boston, in the clubs." And he says "You know, that's the same answer you gave that person. I want a different answer." Well I didn't get started differently.
DHP: I guess for YOU maybe.
JL: Ask me a different question! So does Disney fly you around? Does Disney give you the...
DHP: Well, they actually... This press junket thing took place on a Saturday. And I was supposed to go with Kelsey to do a benefit in Chicago on Sunday. And I said I couldn't do the junket. And they said, "Well, what if we put you on the Disney private jet and flew you to Chicago?" And I said, "Well, would there be food?" (audience laughs) And they said "yes" and I said "Could it be lobster?" (audience laughs) and they said "yes" and I said "Might there be champagne?" (audience laughs) and they said "yes" and I said "I'll do the junket". So, I went, I went with a friend, they put us on the plane. So I did this all-day junket. Went out to Van Nuys Airport, this little private hangar, they drive you out in a limousine to the private jet.
JL: Wow.
DHP: It's unbelievable, you get on, it's like wood paneling, there's a pilot and co-pilot. And they're like "Welcome." You know, "The lobster's in the refridgerator, the champagne's in the bucket." You know, "Help yourself." We sit back there, just the two of us, kick off our shoes. Plane takes off. Twenty minutes into the flight I'm looking out the window and I say "Oh! It looks like, looks like we're leveling off." My friend says "Looks like we're going down." And I said "That is not fu..." and as soon as I got "fu" out the oxygen masks dropped down. Now, have you ever been in a plane where the oxygen masks drop down?
JL: I was... No, I don't think I have.
DHP: Yeah I, I have a new rule of flying. Which is, always wear brown pants.
JL: Really. (audience groans and laughs)
DHP: That's . . . that's the rule.
JL: You don't want the freezer burn.
DHP: No, you know, have you ever seen, one of the airlines has a, a video... freezer burn, that's right, high-altitude freezer burn. Um, one of the videos shows this, one airline shows this video for, you know, what could happen on the plane. And they actually show the moment where the oxygen masks fall down. Have you ever seen it? All the people, they're sitting there, and these masks drop down. And you can't hear what they're saying but it looks like they're turning to each other and saying "Oh, oxygen masks. Wasn't that thoughtful?" you know "Let's put that on." And you're thinking, now you know if that were really happening that is not the way it would occur. But in fact, sitting on the plane when that happened, I became really calm, really fast. There was no screams. The only thing I did was put my shoes back on. (audience laughs) And I thought about it afterwards, it was, honestly, the feeling was, it'll hurt less with my shoes on. (audience laughs)
JL: Really.
DHP: That's the, that's the, yeah. They, Disney was really great. They... JL: Oh, you didn't crash?
DHP: We didn't crash. Oh, that's right, there's more to this story. (audience laughs) Uh, the captain came on the air, you know, on the microphone and said "Aaaahhh!" no, he said (audience laughs) "Don't worry, everything is fine. We just lost cabin pressure" Oh! "And uh, we can't seem to get it back. So we're gonna go back to the airport." So that was 20 minutes into the flight. Interestingly, the 20 minute flight back with oxygen masks hanging in front of your face is a whole lot longer than the 20 minute flight out. But we, we got back and Disney people, you know, were arranging, calling frantically arranging like, a red-eye flight on a commercial airliner. We ended up eating lobster in like, little plastic containers and champagne out of styrofoam cups in the kitchen of the hangar. So I figured that you know, just when you say, you know "Things can't get any better," God comes along and says "Yes, but they can get worse."
JL: That's right. You know what's funny, you talk about the uh, the uh, that, that, that movie they show you. Have you ever noticed when people do this in planes. (mimes people buttoning up jackets, removing seat cushions)
DHP: Yes.
JL: And the guy gives the chair to the woman and they take, and they hold and they sit like, you now?
DHP: Right, Yea...
JL: Screaming and pawing each other.
DHP: No screaming, no, no. I mean, I have to say I don't want to see the like, actually...
JL: No, no. You don't want to see that.
DHP: No, you don't need to know that ahead of time.
JL: Now tell me about your, how are you like your character in "A Bug's Life"? I'm curious...

DHP gets up and begins choking JL.

DHP: Uh, I'm not, I'm not. I've said, this gym I go to, they say "Oh, they made a character after you. He's a STICK."

DHP makes face, audience laughs.

DHP: Gym humor. But it's a, he's a, he's a walking stick bug. Which is this long sort of tall thing with antlers and uh, two sets of hands. So I'm a lot like him really.
JL: I mean, is it like acting or is it easier? Is it just reading a part? Is it really acting?
DHP: It's actually very cool. You're by yourself, you're not with the other actors.
JL: Right.
DHP: There's a bunch of great people in this movie. And we only met like at the premiere. But you stand in this, with a microphone in a sound stage. The director's there, uh, giving you ideas and you sort of, it all happens in your head. And then they uh, where it really happens of course is the animation.
JL: Well, let's take a look. Here's your character the big, tall stick guy. Let's take a look, "A Bug's Life".

Shows the "You're a walking stick, it's funny!" clip. (audience cheers and claps)

JL: Congratulations on "Frasier".
DHP: Thank you.
JL: A wonderful, wonderful year. Just great job. David, good as always.
DHP: Thanks Jay
JL: "A Bug's Life" is the film, it's playing now. Be right back with Henry Winkler right after this.

(This transcript is courtesy of Tané who transcribed the interview and Lana who has allowed me to post it on my website.)

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