Crispin “Hellion” Glover will be on Late Show with David Letterman tonight for the
first third time since his disastrous appearance in July 1987, when he took the stage in a wig and big platform shoes, offered up a brief and bizarre interview, and delivered a high kick inches from Letterman’s face. The producers cut to commercial and he hasn’t been seen on the show since. Here’s a collage of eight screen captures from that episode. (If you have a video clip, send it to me!)
So it should be an interesting show tonight. Unfortunately, Dave’s out sick; maybe Crispin will try to jump-kick guest host Will Ferrell instead. (Or maybe he’ll sing “Ben.”)
I’ve included a full transcript below of the 1987 appearance below.
July 16, 2003: Consumption Junction has the video clip of the original Letterman appearance (careful at work).
A transcript doesn’t do it full justice since much of comedy came from Glover’s bearing. He came onto the set facing backstage and his arms spread as though he were arguing with someone. He was wearing striped pants (vertical stripes of various widths: off-white, earth tones, light blue), black platform shoes with huge high heels and a patterned blue-and-white short-sleeved button-down shirt. He has long, very messy hair which wasn’t cut straight. It appeared to be a wig.
He appeared very nervous and ill at ease. He had a lot of trouble getting his words out. Because of the way he spoke and acted, the audience laughed off and on throughout the interview. Leading up to the kick, Glover places the case (which was on his lap) on the floor, leans forward and flexes his right arm with his left hand on the biceps. He leans toward Dave, offering to arm wrestle. He stands and takes two steps backward. On the first he bangs his right foot against the case; on the second he steps off the platform and stumbles. He recovers and kicks his right foot almost straight out and toward Dave’s head.
I don’t think the kick came close to hitting Dave. During the kick Glover’s left foot stayed near the spot it was when he stepped off the platform. As he brought his right leg down after the kick, his left knee bumped into the chair furthest from Dave, who had his hand on the desk but was sitting behind it (not leaning up over it). I’m guessing the kick was maybe two or three feet from Dave’s head.
Dave kept calm through the whole thing and didn’t flinch during the kick. He played the straight man throughout the segment, which was probably the best comedic strategy.
Objects were visible in the case, but I have no idea what they were. (Note: They were wax replicas of diseased eyeballs.)
Here is the transcript of the Glover segment.
David Letterman: My next guest is a very talented young man, probably best remembered as Michael J. Fox’s father in a film called “Back to the Future.” He is now starring in a motion picture called “River’s Edge.” Folks, please welcome Crispin Glover. (Glover walks out.)
DL: Hi, how are you?
Crispin Glover: Good.
DL: Nice to see you.
CG: Nice to see you too.
DL: How are you doing?
CG: Good, I’m really good.
DL: Things going alright this summer?
CG: I’m having a very good summer.
DL: Where do you live now? You live in Los Angeles?
CG: Yes, that’s right. In Los Angeles. I just bought a nice condominium.
DL: Condominium. Where’s it located?
CG: It’s located just over the hill in the valley and I’m really happy about it.
DL: For a time you lived in Hollywood? You lived on Hollywood Boulevard?
CG: In Hollywood Boulevard?
DL: On Hollywood Boulevard?
DL: Had an apartment overlooking Hollywood Boulevard? A big high building you lived in. A big tower on Hollywood Boulevard?
CG: No, no.
DL: Alright. Then we’ll just drop that and go on to something else, alright? Do you do a lot of television shows?
CG: Oh, yes, now because I’ve been in movies that are big and I’m a movie star so I’ve been on talk shows, on the Johnny Carson Show and now I’m here and I’ve been all across the United States and I feel really good about it.
Women from Audience: Nice shoes! (Glover looks up at them.)
DL: Do you enjoy the experience?
CG: Yes, I feel very good about them. (A close-up of Glover’s left shoe creates laughter. He pauses and looks confused.)
DL: I notice you have something there in the case. (Points to black case which is on other chair.)
CG: I knew that this was going to happen and can I tell you because the press they can do things, they can twist things around. You’re talking… (takes wad of clippings out of pocket) Look, the press says things about you in the paper and this is a paper, the LA Weekly in Los Angeles, and they said, they said about me, “Lawdy Daw.” It was at a—I went to a club. And they said, it was at a meeting, and it said, “Crispin Glover, who was in a (word removed by A&E) frenzy, though his bark is actually worse than his dot dot dot, you get the point.” And then…
DL: Paul, anything you’d like to add here?
PS: (Mouths word “no.”)
CG: And then another one, they said, they said, they said, they said Crispin Glover…
DL: Paul, is this the first time you’ve seen another guy drown? Is this the first time you’ve watched a guy die?
PS: Are you talking about you or him?
DL: No, me.
PS: It’s quite entertaining though.
CG: They said, “Crispin Glover was pinstriped and greased up for the occasion impressing the girl thangs who were trying to get next to him. Guess some people are turned on by brill cream.”
DL: Yeah, well, I don’t know.
CG: And then they–I don’t have…
DL: You seem to be distraught. You seem to be distraught.
CG: People seem to make me seem a lot weird. And I’m just–I’m strong, you know. (flexes arm) I’m strong. I can arm wrestle. Do you want to arm wrestle?
CG: (stands up) I’ve been taking… These aren’t mine… I can kick. (Kicks at Dave’s head.)
DL: Okay, okay. I’m going to check on the top ten. (referring to fact that top ten list graphics haven’t been ready throughout show) (Glover pulls on Dave’s jacket to keep him from going but Dave walks away from desk.) I’ll be back. (Glover sits back in chair. Cut to commercial.)
After the commercial, Dave had this to say:
DL: Okay, welcome back to the show. We’re running a little short on time tonight. I would have loved to have chatted a little more with Crispin Glover. I understand he had a cab to catch. Traffic this time of night here in mid-town is pretty brutal so we wanted to ensure every possibility he would get wherever he was going on time. Did you enjoy that, Paul?
PS: It was an interesting segment.
DL: I think that’s the first time since we’ve been doing the show that a guest actually tried to kick me.
PS: Well, I think it was a conceptual piece.
DL: He came very close to denting my head with those giant shoes. So I thought, I don’t need that. I’m 40. I went to college. I’ve had a number of— That is not how I want my life ended, some goofball, some dork from wherever— (moans and boos from crowds) Oh, stop it, stop it. Do you want to have dinner with the guy? (applause)
The next show (and here I am going from memory) opened with a replay of the final portion of the interview. Letterman wakes up on a couch and Paul asks him what’s wrong. Dave says he just had a nightmare in which Crispin Glover tried to kick him. Paul says it wasn’t a dream. It really happened. Dave: “What a jerk.”