Saturday, October 04, 2014

David Hyde Pierce: guest blogger

Even though it's Saturday, here's a Friday Question comes from reader Alyson:

I recently rewatched Frasier - great show, even better than I remembered. I'm curious about the fencing scene in "An Affair to Forget" from season 2. Awhile back, you wrote a nice post about Jane Leeves and how she learned how to shoot pool for an episode. So my question is: We all know David Hyde Pierce is a great physical comedian. Did he learn how to fence for that episode, did he already know, or was he just winging it?

Not knowing the answer to this I asked someone who does – David Hyde Pierce. Alyson, here is his response:

As I recall, the writers asked me about my fencing experience before they wrote the episode. I’d been trained in stage combat by a guy named B.H. Barry, and I’d done two big sword fights for B.H., one in Cyrano and one in Kevin Kline’s Hamlet. ( In each case I both fought with and understudied the lead, which meant I had to learn both sides of the fight So, theoretically I could challenge myself to a duel and lose.) Coincidentally the actor who played Maris’ fencing instructor had also trained with B.H., so since we spoke the same language fencing-wise, we were able to learn a fairly elaborate fight in a relatively short time.

Hope that’s helpful.
Dhp

Many thanks to David Hyde Pierce along with David Lee. 

This has been a repost.  But do you care?  I mean, David Hyde Pierce!

24 comments:

Richard Y said...

Great and thanks as I must have missed this one.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I remember hearing Alan Alda on a talk show discussing the fencing scenes in SWEET LIBERTY. He took fencing lessons for a year, and periodically would call Michael Caine, his opponent in the movie, to ask Caine if he wanted to come to class. Caine always put it off. Come the day of filming, Caine shows up, does exactly what the camera needs, and that's it.

wg

Stoney said...

If I ever had the chance to ask David Hyde Pierce a question there's something I've always wondered about regarding the "Frasier" episode "Ham Radio". (The one in which an old-style live radio drama is being staged.) One of the character voices he does, Prudence MacAllistar, sounds very much to me like a character from a classic British radio show; Lady Constance de Coverlet from "I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again". Was that where it came from?

ScottyB said...

Today's blog post goes along with one of Ken's answers to yesterday's Friday question about what shows up on actors' resumes. So really, don't go laughing your ass off when someone put down "adequate fencing skills" on their resume, yeah?

I mean, it's DHP.

Angry Gamer said...

No I don't care it was a great post Ken.

One of the fantastic thing about the interwebs is not only getting someones thoughts but also the thoughts of who they socially know.

Great story... impressed by Dhp and his fencing!

katefate said...

"So, theoretically I could challenge myself to a duel and lose."

I want this scene; I don't care what show.

ScottyB said...

This has nothing to do with today's Ken post, but I have to mention it anyway, since Ken has blogged about his experience(s) with office assistants.

A friend of mine stole the May 2014 issue of GQ magazine from the laundromat, and I found the Jim Nelson piece "The Horrible Bosses of Hollywood" (http://www.gq.com/entertainment/movies-and-tv/201405/horrible-bosses-hollywood) to be pretty interesting.

I guess if I had a Friday Question for Ken, it would revolve not around how underpaid and unappreciated (and probably psychologically abused) assistants are, but this: Really? Sitcom writes like this are actually allowed -- and perhaps/probably allowed/encouraged to fucking live and thrive?

No wonder why so many people wish network-TV would just fucking die already.

ScottyB said...

Just an offhand comment here, since it involves David Hyde Pierce. My mid-teenage kids find no humor in 'Frasier' or 'Cheers', no matter how much I coach them on how those shows *are* horribly funny. They're not retarded or anything (they don't find 'Green Acres' especially humorous either, so they're probably OK.) But when I point out that DHP was the voice of the walking stick in 'A Bug's Life', they go "He was awesome in that. Now *that* was funny*."

That's kinda where I just sit there shaking my head, not knowing which way to think.

benson said...

Reading this makes me realize how much I wish there was a classy, aimed at intelligent adults, comedy.

Michael said...

A salute to David Hyde Pierce. My wife and I saw Spamalot on Broadway, and I wonder whether he realized that in the early scene where he is a guard, he channeled Stan Laurel. I mean, it was a great impression of him. Throw in that he had the best song in the musical ....

Charles Cavender said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I occasionally post Niles doing battle with an iron...and losing...as one of the funniest pieces of acting in history. All that time on Frasier, and Spamalot too? I am humbled.

Eric J said...

I wanna take "Stage combat" just to put it on a resume.

Cap'n Bob said...

With my memory you could repost from last week and it would seem new.

Scooter Schechtman said...

I haven't seen "Frasier" for years but I'll aways remember the scene where the brothers propose staging a mock fight solve some problem, only to have the father say "I don't want you two getting physical. It would be too weird."

Johnny Walker said...

Wow, awesome! I missed this the first time around, I think. Three cheers for re-posts.

Kathleen said...

@Scooter

One of the reasons I think Frasier is so funny is because Frasier and Niles, two snobbish, effete, uber intellectuals could seque into screwball physical comedy seamlessly. My favorite episode was where they were at Maris' house on an island preparing a dinner party for their elite friends and the overwhelming stench of a dead seal on the beach results in them wrapping it in Maris' robe and dousing it with perfume. (Of course matters slide downhill very quickly after that). Brilliant episode.

Breadbaker said...

As the husband and father of fencers, thanks. An an easy fast, Ken, and a good year to you and yours.

Mike Schryver said...

ScottyB: Sorry to disagree, but much of Green Acres was hilarious. Long stretches of some episodes were boring, but when they let fly with the surrealism, watch out.

Lou H. said...

Ken, since you have a foot in both the TV and theatre camps, can you talk about how much a 6-days-a-week play consumes its actors and whether they have time for anything else? A few years ago, Chris Noth was on Broadway and could only appear in a few episodes of The Good Wife. This year, both Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing are in It's Only A Play, and Lane has said he probably won't have any time to appear on The Good Wife.

Lou H. said...

(oops, Continued) As a TV writer, how do you work around a potentially months-long absence of a supporting character?

Roseann said...

When I worked at the Yale School of Drama in the long ago 1970's I had the great luck to watch BH Barry choreograph a few combat scenes.

I remember them to this day. It was an honor to watch him work.

Dan in WNY said...

Re: The Good Wife, David Hyde Pierce has a story arc coming up. One of the benefits of filming in New York is sharing talent with Broadway.

I LOVED the trilingual argument in "An Affair to Forget", with frazier translating English to Spanish and the housekeeper translating Spanish to German. Niles pulls down the sword and says "En garde!" and Frazier replies:

"Like we need another languague here?"

The Griffon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Griffon said...

It's funny that I read the response in David Hyde Pierce's voice. That man needs to be the lead in his own TV series!