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January 14, 2010 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Rena Smaha and her trained rhesus monkeys on Late Night with David Letterman. The year is 1987. Rena Smaha brings her two rhesus monkeys over for a tea party and a few stupid pet tricks. Unfortunately, Dave and Sandy the Monkey don't quite see eye to eye...
posted by Servo5678 (49 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
What did the vivisectionist give the trick-or-treaters for Halloween?

Rhesus Pieces.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:11 PM on January 14, 2010 [14 favorites]


Ah, the Eighties, when even monkeys made poor fashion choices.
posted by Kattullus at 3:13 PM on January 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I miss the days when late night television actually gave segments enough time to let interesting things happen.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 3:15 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


The monkey named Max is a baboon and not a rhesus macaque, for the record.
posted by bergeycm at 3:39 PM on January 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Max is a baboon. And it's fortunate, not unfortunate that Dave and Sandy don't see eye to eye. Much funnier and more interesting. Johnny Carson frequently used "uncooperative" animals as comedy material.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:42 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've previously written about the crazy elderly couple who used to walk their pet monkey in my home town's park. One thing it had in common with Sandy was that it hated men with neckties.

I watched a Jehovah's Witness with his hand full of pamphlets try to walk up to the old man while he was walking that abomination. The monkey flipped out and was jerking on the leash like a fox terrier that had seen a squirrel.

"Take off your tie! He hates ties!" the old man yelled over the squealing as he made a tie-loosening motion at his neck with his free hand.

The Witness knew something satanic when he saw it. He shook his head, turned around, and headed off to bother a couple standing next to the hot dog cart.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:55 PM on January 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


At 5:40 or so I swear I hear Paul Shaffer say "oh SHIT!"
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:59 PM on January 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Next the chimp that rips faces off. Not funny to exploit animals.
posted by A189Nut at 4:17 PM on January 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Rhesus Pieces.

That pun was in a Richard Powers novel. Did he write it or get it elsewhere?
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:19 PM on January 14, 2010


Awwww, I miss the dancing fluids!
posted by punkfloyd at 4:23 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm :52 seconds in, thinking, "Come on, bite someone's face off. Do it. DO IT!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:24 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


4:57. So close!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:27 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


6:35, stop teasing me and FINISH HIM!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:28 PM on January 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Aww, dammit. You escaped this time, Letterman...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:29 PM on January 14, 2010


That's prancing fluids, which Dave started calling his bit of stage business with water fountains after he announced on the show that he had received a "cease and desist" letter from the Dancing Waters Inc. show in Vegas, ordering him to stop referring to his segment using their copyrighted name.
posted by longsleeves at 4:39 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Old School Letterman is the best. Has there been a Brother Theodore fpp? Oh, I see there has.
posted by Catblack at 4:40 PM on January 14, 2010


Sandy's not Dave's dancing monkey, clearly. Good for Sandy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:48 PM on January 14, 2010




Oops, hot towels Part 3
posted by geoff. at 5:00 PM on January 14, 2010


There's no wrong way to eat a rhesus.
posted by grobstein at 5:00 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


That was painful to watch. Those poor animals.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:08 PM on January 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


I can only assume that's why he's holding a sock monkey in Cabin Boy. Once savaged, twice shy.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:09 PM on January 14, 2010


Ha! That hot towel thing is the best Melman clip ever. Those years were great. Even Chris Elliot, who I sometimes found too over the top, came up with some good stuff. Here he is parodying Shatner's take on Rocketman.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:10 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The megaphone intrusion into the today show was exhilerating. Bryant Gumbel was so pissed off.
posted by longsleeves at 5:19 PM on January 14, 2010


I remember watching every one of those moments, geoff. Classic stuff, especially Dave's visit to GE headquarters. I'd forgotten how much I loved the old (young) Letterman. I still enjoy his interviews, but for a good stretch of the 80s, his scripted bits and remote segments were quite simply the best thing on TV.
posted by Atom Eyes at 5:20 PM on January 14, 2010


Is there anything online from his daytime shows (pre-Late Night)? Because I used to watch it ALL the time when I was a kid. Hilarious!
posted by jeanmari at 5:51 PM on January 14, 2010


I feel for David. I'd totally be the same way around those creatures. Performing animals creep me out. I wonder what kinds of uprisings they're plotting in their little monkey brains.

"That's it, smile for the stupid humans! Earn the peanut like a good boy! God, I hate you all. When the revolution comes, you'll be the first up against the wall. Down with homo sapiens! I'll be visiting you in your dreams tonight, big guy."

Also, monkeys and apes fall into the Uncanny Valley for me, big time.
posted by Salieri at 6:02 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's something evil about her response at 6:09 ("Glad you're still thinking kid") that makes me picture of the hours of beatings these monkeys went through.
posted by null terminated at 6:15 PM on January 14, 2010 [6 favorites]



Does anyone understand that this bit is a goof on this woman, the animal exploiter?
posted by Zambrano at 6:20 PM on January 14, 2010


I am still occasionally tempted to give people I don't respect the "GE Handshake."
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:29 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, all these clips make me nostalgic for the 80s, NBC, pre-CBS David Letterman. In other words, the one that was funny. Moving into that Ed Sullivan theater, with its huge audience and automatic applause for anything he does or says was his turning point. I hesitate to say "sellout", because I think Letterman loves the job no matter the money, but the edginess and biting satire of the 80s Letterman is sorely missed. Not to mention the self-depricating humor of the 80s show; nowadays the show is as un-ironically proud of itself as it can be.

Late Night always felt like the class clown's public access show somehow wound up on network TV.
posted by zardoz at 6:40 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite TV segments EVER. I taped it on VHS (!) and would watch it periodically over the years, never failed to make me roar with laughter.
posted by davidmsc at 6:43 PM on January 14, 2010


oh my god that monkey ate a candle.
posted by boo_radley at 7:02 PM on January 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Rhesus Pieces

This joke was also in the Mark Leyner novel Et Tu, Babe. I imagine it's been used a million times since the candy came out.
posted by maxwelton at 7:06 PM on January 14, 2010


Someone finally uploaded my all-time favorite Letterman bit:

"We laughed like that all day until the Heineken people called...."
posted by zarq at 7:16 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


No teeth? Were those poor animals de-toothed and declawed? Pathetic.
posted by Surfurrus at 7:40 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


For some reason Harvey Pekar's first appearance on Letterman isn't around. His read on Letterman was perfect: celebrity-sucking sycophant who regards non-celebrities as victims to be mocked and tormented.

I never did get the adulation so many of my friends had for Letterman. I suspect they felt that same contempt for Everyman, and didn't realize that Letterman would have torn them asunder too.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:24 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suspect they felt that same contempt for Everyman

You are mistaking contempt for everybody for contempt for everyman.
posted by longsleeves at 8:37 PM on January 14, 2010


I would say that Letterman feels intense contempt for himself, but he also is so slavishly fawning toward Celebrities that I don't read it there. I don't think it's a ploy to keep his guest list up, and that he's secretly mocking them, too.

Letterman seemed to eventually come to like Pekar, possibly because Pekar beat him so hard, possibly because he saw Pekar as having found an escape from that sort of crippling self-contempt without falling into happy delusion.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:36 PM on January 14, 2010


Dave at Taco Bell

Oh, I am so disappointed that this wasn't the one in which he filled the back seat of a convertible with Taco Bell tacos and drove around town yelling FREE TACOS through a megaphone! Best segment ever -- the reactions were priceless.
posted by vorfeed at 10:17 PM on January 14, 2010


You know, the Pekar interview in question was still broadcast. As far as know, or as far as my understanding of how these things go, Letterman and his production team let the interview go out with no major edits.
posted by raysmj at 10:18 PM on January 14, 2010


"So why do they call this a urine monkey ...oooh wait I just found out."
posted by The Whelk at 11:44 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, NBC Letterman was way better than CBS Letter.

I miss the monkeycam.
posted by Tacodog at 2:10 AM on January 15, 2010


CBS Letterman, that is.
posted by Tacodog at 2:10 AM on January 15, 2010


"One of my favorite TV segments EVER. I taped it on VHS (!) and would watch it periodically over the years, never failed to make me roar with laughter."
posted by davidmsc at 6:43 PM on January 14

Me too, davidmsc!- I bet I still have it on VHS somewhere... I wish Letterman had more of these types of guests on his show!
posted by newfers at 4:06 AM on January 15, 2010


It's all fun and games until shit is thrown or someone gets their hands ripped off and beaten with them.
posted by stormpooper at 6:19 AM on January 15, 2010


I couldn't watch the whole thing. I was expecting something more akin to little dog tricks like sitting and hopping with lots of treats and maybe some info about monkeys, but it was just sad seeing those monkeys all dressed up with that strict lady.
posted by bluefly at 6:32 AM on January 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is there anything more depressing than trained monkeys? And why aren't trained dogs similarly depressing?
posted by HotToddy at 10:24 PM on January 15, 2010


why aren't trained dogs similarly depressing

Just a hunch, but a lot of dogs get depressed/neurotic if they don't have a "job" to do, particularly the smarter breeds. Hundreds of thousands of years of breeding for Likes To Please and Likes To Work means that well-trained, well-loved dogs really enjoy their jobs, even if it's a silly trick.

Monkeys however, monkeys do not enjoy being told what to do.
posted by The Whelk at 11:43 PM on January 15, 2010


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