Chris Elliott was an important part of David Letterman’s Late Night ever since it began. While working as an NBC page, Elliott met and impressed Letterman, who hired him onto the show as part of its original writing staff in 1982. Elliott wrote for Late Night alongside other influential comedy scribes like Jim Downey, Merrill Markoe, Andy Breckman, and George Meyer, and he quickly started appearing on camera, making his acting debut on the show just a couple of weeks into Late Night’s run.
Elliott soon became a beloved part of the show, often playing himself or a bevy of snotty recurring characters like The Guy Under the Seats, Marv Albert, talk show host Chris Elliott Jr., and, of course, Marlon Brando. In 1986, a writer named Adam Resnick was hired onto the show. Resnick and Elliott clicked and became writing partners and started collaborating on non-Letterman projects like Get a Life and Cabin Boy. Elliott departed Late Night in 1989 to work on his own stuff but has regularly visited the show, and Letterman’s current program The Late Show, ever since.
Check out a collection of Chris Elliott’s funniest Late Night with David Letterman appearances below:
From David Letterman’s 2nd Annual Holiday Film Festival in 1986, here’s Chris Elliott’s entry. It’s a short film called “Chris Elliott: A Television Miracle,” narrated by George Takei.
Just after his show Get a Life was canceled by Fox in the spring of 1992, Chris Elliott returned to Letterman to debut this, his dramatic interpretation of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” Inspired by William Shatner’s rendition of the song, of course.
Chris Elliott was one of the first people to ever do a Jay Leno impression, back when Leno was just a standup and Tonight Show sub/Letterman regular. He does the impression better than the scores of people who follow in his footsteps.
Here’s Elliott as his character, The Guy Under the Seats, debuting his new ventriloquist act and his dummy Pinky.
Chris Elliott talking about his new show, The Fugitive Guy, which has nothing to do with the 1960s series The Fugitive.
Elliott doing his impression of sportscaster Marv Albert and trying to unload a chocolate football helmet on Letterman.
The founder and director of the Columbus Zoo in Columbus, Ohio, stops by Dave’s desk.
Chris Elliott as Marlon Brando, doing his famous “Banana Dance.”
Elliott doing a demonstration on dog food to answer a viewer’s question.
An episode of The Chris Elliott Jr. Show, his Morton Downey Jr. Show parody.
Following one of Chris Elliott’s “The Regulator Guy” segments, he gets stuck above the stage during Letterman’s interview with Peter Allen, thanks to a malfunctioning jetpack.
A remote piece in which David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, and award-winning deep sea fisherman Chris Elliott go out on the ocean and go fishing together for the segment “Dave’s Rod and Reel.”