A few years ago I ran a couple of Comedy Tests. I would show classic sitcom scenes and get your reaction. One was the classic David Hyde Pierce silent scene from FRASIER. David Lee, the co-creator of FRASIER was nice enough to share the whole backstory of the DHP scene used as Comedy Test Part 2. For those who don't read the comments, I thought I'd repost it so everyone can see.
Thanks much, David.
Several thoughts from David Lee.
Prize goes to the poster who said it reminded him/her of Mr. Bean. I had recently been introduced to his work and loved a lot of it. I told DHP that I would like to do something like that for him on the show. Couldn't really come up with anything for a while (we didn't want to crib the "turkey on the head" bit,though that wasn't a concern of another sit-com on the air at the time. I do remember in the room having trouble breaking a Valentine story and hitting upon the idea of doing three short stories instead. Two of them involved every character except Niles, so the idea of something for him alone came up. Then the Mr. Bean thought, and then the fire idea. I remember distinctly that once we hit upon that, the details of it came together very, very quickly in the room.
Because of safety concerns, the scene was filmed without the usual studio audience. ( It was played to a studio audience later, and those are the laughs you hear). It also had to be done in bits and pieces. The problem is, when there is only one person on stage, what do you cut to? That's where the dog came in--not out of an attempt to be cutsie--but rather to be able to piece it all together.
And of course, as many have said, none of it would have worked without the brilliance of DHP. A wonder he is.
And to the poster who wondered who would make all those mistakes with an iron, fire extinguisher and cleaning materials: how about someone who never or seldom uses them?
A side note now that my memory has been shaken: This was the episode that caused a showdown with the network. We had been complaining that they were giving away plot points and great jokes in their promos for quite awhile, and we knew that every promo would for this episode would be nothing but flames galore. So we did not deliver this piece of it until the day of broadcast. Apoplectic, they were. Lawsuits threatened, even. But they finally came up with a better promo that said something like "The producers of Frasier think this episode is so special, they won't even let us see it."
Now back to my couch.
Once again, thanks to David Lee for posting this originally in the comments section. Check out the comments, folks. They're often times better than the posts.