Yes, Bill Murray is the greatest talk show guest of all time.  Subjective, sure, but feel free to come at us with any other late-show guest who can boast this kind of resume. His secret? An unbeatable mix of effortless cool, quick wit, unexpected weirdness, and a complete lack of respect for the hosts and their shows.

Letterman Hall of Famer

Bill Murray was the first-ever guest on Late Night with David Letterman, coming out of the gate with an appearance that has to be etched on his personal talk-show Mount Rushmore.  

Murray liked Letterman but wasn’t overly confident that his show would last long. "If the show was gonna get canceled right away, I thought, 'That may be the one I would like to go out on.’”

So on that premiere show, Letterman and Murray created the template for the rest of their long history. Murray played with lint balls; threatened Letterman (and then apologized), and showed footage of a baby panda he supposedly rescued from a Chinese restaurant. The finale was a bonkers performance of Olivia Newton-John's  "Physical." (That’s a Letterman staffer he pulls from the audience -- head writer Jim Downey was worried Murray would flip her headfirst into the concrete floor.)

Murray was also Dave’s first (and final) guest on his CBS Late Show. To get the show off to a good start, Bill explained how Chevy Chase had told him it’s important to get your name out there. He took out a can of paint and sprayed DAVE on Letterman’s brand-new desk.

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The new set was nice while it lasted.

Hot Hot Hot

It’s another virtual spot with Jimmy Fallon and remote guest Guy Fieri, who’s teaching our guys how to make nachos.  (Who needs to learn how to make nachos?  When Guy recommends lining a pan with tortilla chips, Murray quips: “Wait, let me get a pencil.”) 

The fun really begins when Murray challenges Fallon and Fieri to do hot-sauce shots. Fallon hesitates before taking the challenge, justly afraid of hot sauce in his fridge with the name “Puckerbutt.”

Man of a Thousand Hats

Need more evidence?  How about this collection of outfits that Murray has worn for talk show appearances over the years.  There’s Liberace Murray:

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The Bill Murray Who Refuses to Grow Up

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Foppish English Dandy Murray

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Frozen Tundra Murray

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Bill The Field-Goal-Kicking Talk Show Guest

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Now that’s a commitment to late-night excellence. The gauntlet has been thrown, Paul Rudd!  You’re a comer, but you’ll need a few more classics to catch the GOAT.  

For more ComedyNerd, be sure to check out:

The Office: How The Show Made A Calculated Decision To Lean Into Internet Culture

The Show That Set Up Jim Carrey's Entire Career

The Weirdo Show That Gave Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn And Denis Leary Their Starts

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