Montreal Comedy Festival Talkshow (AENTV webcast) with host Fred Willard     July 24, 1999
David was interviewed right after he hosted the Gala 9 of the Just for Laughs Montreal Comedy Festival on July 24, 1999. According to all reports, he did a wonderful job as host. To read the translation of a French article, click here.
David started out the evening with a parody of Ricky Martin's "Viva La Vida Loca" which he penned, called Pantelones de Vaca ("Pants of Cow"). During his parody, he had his suit torn off by a four female dancers to reveal leather pants and a gray shirt (similar to the ones that Ricky Martin wore in his video). Then he went about mimicking Ricky's Martin's performance at this year's Grammy's. This is a transcript of the RealVideo interview on AENTV. To see the RealVideo, click here.
Live! Well, almost live from the Montreal Comedy Festival, where over 200 comedians from around the world squeeze into a screen the size of a ravioli, it's "Just For Laughs," hosted by Fred Willard and brought to you by iNEXTV. And now, it's Screening Videos. Welcome to the show.
Fred Willard: Fred Willard again and screening to you over AENTV from the comedy festival in Montreal. We've just wrapped night three at the main stage. We're here with David Hyde Pierce, STAR of "Frasier," and I think I am quoting you correctly there?
David Hyde Pierce: Yes.
FW: THE STAR?
DHP: The one, the one, yeah.
FW: Now you have gone... your background is theatre, isn't it?
DHP: Right, that's where I started out, yes.
FW: Suddenly you are on the stage here...killing. May I say that in all honesty?
DHP: Thank you, thank you.
FW: I don't want to embarrass you.
DHP: You can be wrong, but thank you anyways.
FW: And I hear that you killed at the Comedy Awards?
DHP: Oh, yeah.
FW: At what point did you step over the line into doing stand-up?
DHP: ...become a killer! (laughter off-camera)
DHP: Uh-huh. I don't know, it was here, I think, probably where it started two years ago and I've also done things like I hosted the Cable Ace Awards with Sela Ward and done stuff like that. I also, do you know what it was? They had a Friar's Club Roast with Kelsey Grammer.
DHP: I emceed that and that was the first time... I worked with Bruce Vilanch, a great writer, and err...and worked blue and really did it, and it was a blast! I had a good time. And then a couple of years ago when they asked me to do the festival here, I did it and also had a great time. So that's sort of how it happened.
FW: And you opened with... you didn't open with it but you did this song...
DHP: ...'La Vida Loca'?
FW: Did I understand you write... wrote it?
DHP: I wrote... I did parody lyrics that I wrote, yeah.
FW: And it was great fun.
DHP: Thank you.
FW: I heard someone here say, 'Oy, who's writing for him, this is great,' and even if you got someone to write that, to execute it... you wrote it?
DHP: I wrote it, yeah. The writers here wrote a lot of stuff in the show tonight, which was great. There was a whole big hockey number with Yvan Cournoyer, the great hockey star, yeah. They did a lot of stuff but that number in particular was mine.
FW: You didn't want them to ask you to write comedy material with a hockey star?
DHP: I didn't think so. They came to me with that idea.
FW: Not hockey literate?
FW: Emmm, growing up as a kid did you want to become a stage actor? Or did you always have your heart set on...?
DHP: No, you know, when I grew up as a kid, I used to sort of act for fun. I was a musician, I was gonna... I thought I was gonna be a concert pianist. But my dad was an actor, not professionally, but he acted all the time, in like, community theater and stuff. His dad was an actor. And I just found out that his grandfather was an actor. So it's definitely in the business... uh, in the genes.
FW: Did they encourage you? Well, obviously.
DHP: They didn't discourage me. They... the thing that happened is, when I got out of college and then decided to try pursue acting, I went to New York and I worked at Bloomingdale's selling ties as Christmas help. That was my first job and then I did temp work at a law firm as a paralegal and... I got there in the Fall. In the Spring, I got my first job, a Broadway show. And my mom and dad came and was sitting in the audience for the opening night, of me in a Broadway show, and that was it for them. They caught the bug and they were behind me a hundred percent.
FW: What was the show?
DHP: It's called 'Beyond Therapy.'
FW: Oh, sure.
DHP: Chris Durang play.
FW: Chris Durang, yeah, yeah. The first time I appeared on stage was some place that my parents came back and their only comment was 'How did you remember all those lines?' So I probably wasn't as good as they thought I was...
FW: ...because they were cognitive that he's memorized his lines. (DHP chuckles) Are you, other than the piano, what other musical uh... not that that's not enough!
DHP: Thank you!!!!! (laughter off-camera)
FW: Don't say why didn't I learn about a harmonica.
DHP: Bagpipes, it didn't occur to me at the time.
FW: Do we have a bagpipe for Mr. Pierce? (laughter off-camera) Oh, darn it.
DHP: I used to play the organ. I used to be a church organist, yeah.
FW: Oh, really?
DHP: Yeah, so that's the piano, but you have to use your feet as well.
FW: An organ can be a very square church or can be a very hip instrument, can't it?
DHP: Yeah, well and what do you think I played? (laughter off-camera)
FW: Did you ever get caught doing a Ray Charles?
DHP: You know what... No, but I'm just now starting to teach myself the blues. I can't do it yet but for years I thought, you know, I'm a classical pianist I can't do that sort of thing and then I said, 'Wait a minute, you're not a classical pianist. You're a moron. Just sit down and work at it, and it takes work 'cause it's not my natural idiom.
FW: Really? It's tough? It's a frustrating...
DHP: Absolutely, absolutely.
FW: You just have to hold the chords a little longer...
DHP: No, no.
FW: ...and go like that (swaying his head side to side and mimicks a blues singer). I want to see that.
DHP: That helps.
FW: That would be nice if you did a jazz festival in New Orleans with David Hyde Pierce.
DHP: A long time coming, I'll tell you.
FW: Takes a little getting used to. They're going "What the hell does he have to sing the blues about?"
DHP: That's right. You don't have (indecipherable) to appreciate it.
FW: Kelsey Grammer's inspiration is Jack Benny.
FW: I feel as though, that like, you are almost like a very hip Jack Benny. But who was your influence, if you had to look for in comedy or even a comic actor?
DHP: With Jack Benny that would be like, 'Jack Benny and The Jets.' Umm.....
FW: 'Jack Benny and The Jets'! (laughter off-camera)
DHP: Thank you.
FW: For those of you who are musically...
DHP: An Elton John song.
FW: Elton John.
DHP: Umm... you know what, the two people who are sort of role models for me, who I aspire to as a comic actor, one is Alec Guinness and the other is John Cleese.
FW: You can't beat that!
DHP: Those are my two heroes and they are very different kinds of comedy, but I try to... those are the kinds of things I like.
FW: Yeah. Have you worked with John Cleese?
DHP: I did. I worked with John last summer, here in Montreal on a picture... a Bette Midler movie called, 'Isn't She Great,' a biography of Jacqueline Susann. Bette Midler, Nathan Lane, me, and John and errr.....
FW: Is he serious off-camera or does he try to be a personable guy or......
DHP: Oh, he's, he's really brilliant...
FW: Oh right, I know that.
DHP: He's a very quick wit and has a fast mind and he's complicated off-camera. He's funny but also serious... he's an actual person, unlike most of us. (laughter off-camera)
FW: What you're saying is that he doesn't try... not to take up valuable times off of you about another actor...
DHP: No, it's fine.
FW: ...what you need---but tell us about Kelsey---OK---and John Cleese can play Little Richard backwards on the piano. If you put your mind to it, you could...
DHP: I'm so sick of you, I could scream (laughter off-camera).
FW: Are you computer literate, do you get on the Internet?
DHP: I don't do the Internet so much and I'm moderately... like I can use a computer. I use it to write sometimes and stuff like that or do banking. Umm... I don't spend a lot of time on the Internet, though.
DHP: Sorry! Sorry! (laughter off-camera) I just realised that---yes, of course, I will now.
FW: We'll edit that right out and we can edit in blues music with David Hyde Pierce.
FW: On the set of "Frasier," do you ever improvise, do you ever do any influence or...
DHP: We do in rehearsal. By the time we get to actual shooting, of course, the script is pretty set. And the thing is, our writers are so good, we don't have to come up with much. I mean, it's only in a moment of inspiration, 'Oh, this might be a good line or this might be a good thing.' But they give us so much, it's a real luxury.
FW: It's an inspirational show for me as an actor. There is so much on television I can't even watch and to see such a smart show and have it coming tops in the ratings is amazing.
DHP: Right. It's nice.
FW: I felt that "Seinfeld" did too. It's ideal that it be placed toward the top.
FW: I understand that the whole cast was asked to be in "Art" this Summer.
DHP: Well, uh...
FW: It would've been very interesting cast.
DHP: It would have been. "Art" is a three person play. Kelsey and John Mahoney and I were asked to do it.
FW: But you were doing other things?
DHP: We just couldn't get it together. We had done a reading of it at Kelsey's house, just privately, just for fun, just because I had seen the play in London and I think maybe John had too and it was... we had a great time. It is a great play for actors, but we just... you know, it didn't work out.
FW: When do you start back on "Frasier"?
DHP: Just in a couple of weeks.
FW: Great, this is great. What else are you doing besides the Montreal Comedy Festival... not that this isn't enough.
DHP: Thank you. I'm playing the piano and I'm learning the bagpipes!
FW: Seeing that you don't know any other musical instrument or could play the blues.
DHP: I'm just so humiliated!
FW: Did you know Ray Charles is blind, he is sightless and he can play the Blues? (laughter off-camera)
DHP: Thank you, thank you, I'm not going anywhere with that.
FW: If you're listening, Ray, we love you.
DHP: Um, you asked a really good question, am I doing anything, it was about me, actually a question about me.
FW: Yes. You know, I wonder what Kelsey is doing, he's such an interesting person (laughter off-camera)
FW: But what are you doing?
DHP: What am I doing?
FW: You shocked me by saying I asked an interesting question, you prefer that?
DHP: Yes, yes.
FW: Is it a movie or.....
DHP: I did, I did do a movie in Vancouver this summer.
FW: With John Cleese?
DHP: NO! That's the one in Montreal!
FW: We don't have enough time with you to really sit down and work and...
DHP: And don't really care.
FW: You know, if this was the Larry King you would've been in a two hour pre-interview on the phone. Sorry you didn't have to do that. I'm doing this with no knowledge whatsoever.
DHP: That's true, that's true... That's a good point... You're just playing yourself.
FW: That's right and I work best with no knowledge.
FW: But--er--you don't need this exposure, I can't thank you enough. One thing for bringing comedy to a comedy deprived people in Montreal. You bought this comedy here, you strutted out, you gave us 'La Vida Loca' like we've never seen it.
FW: The image of you with the leather pants. And what did... I forget you did the American interpretation... Juste Pour Rire?
DHP: Juste Pour Rire.
FW: And what is that in English?
DHP: Just for Butts. (laughter off camera) I think that's right.
FW: I don't think so... I don't think so.
DHP: I'm half right... I studied French once.
FW: This interview has gone thirty seconds too long.
DHP: You're telling me (laughs).
FW: David, best of luck. If I come backstage and see you... you're doing what, 'The Boys of Syracuse'?
DHP: I will be, yeah, in the Fall.
FW: Musical thing.
FW: If I come backstage, I'm not going to hear, 'Mr Pierce is too busy or he's very tired,' will I?
DHP: No, you won't make it backstage. (laughter off camera)
FW: That is the best---what did he say?---what did he say?---Fred Willard with my own talk show. I could have cut him off two and a half minutes ago (David laughs). We are coming to you from Montreal, 'Just for Laughs' or 'Just for Butts,' as Mr. Pierce has pointed out. You know the organ is not that difficult an instrument?
DHP: Why did you look at my crotch when you said that? (laughter and clapping off-camera)
FW: Cut! (as Fred Willard starts to walk off laughing)
Transcriber's Notes: And at that interesting question they faded away..... I wish to thank Eunice and Laurie for their valuable help in interpreting some of this transcript.
(This transcript is courtesy of Michele of the CN and DHP mailing lists. 8/4/99)