All the Randos Late-Night Hosts Turned Into Somebodies
Late-night talk shows mostly exist to help us better understand our favorite celebrities through brief, manufactured, often irritatingly facile (though not always) conversations. But occasionally, hosts have invited random, completely non-famous folks onto their shows. So to celebrate these less-wealthy TV pseudo-stars, we’ve gathered some of the most memorable normies from the world of late-night TV below...
Rupert Jee, ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’
Jee, the proprietor of the Hello Deli, first appeared in a “Get to Know Your Neighbors” segment of The Late Show during Letterman’s very first season in the Ed Sullivan Theater. Letterman even invited the new restaurateur into the theater for a standing ovation.
But their relationship didn’t end there. Jee and his deadpan earnestness quickly became a regular fixture of the show. Jee appeared more than 400 times on the show, in segments such as “Fun with Rupert Jee,” in which he was equipped with a hidden camera and earpiece and forced to do Letterman’s bidding.
Guillermo Rodriguez, ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’
Kimmel’s beloved sidekick Guillermo was the building’s security guard, and he only caught the host’s attention after he was caught sleeping in announcer Dicky Barrett’s car. Kimmel’s response to Barrett’s complaint: “We got to put this guy in the show.” Yes, he went from a vehicular break-in/nap to doing shots of tequila with A-list stars on the Oscar red carpet. What a roller coaster.
Jordan Schlansky, ‘Conan’
Late Night with Conan O’Brien associate producer Schlansky (who performed “various tasks” behind the scenes) first became the focus of O’Brien’s comic wrath due to the show’s desperation for content during the writers’ strike in 2008:
Soon afterward, Schlansky was making regular appearances, such as when he tried to quiz Harrison Ford about Indiana Jones:
In the Conan era, Schlansky even journeyed with the host to countries like Japan and Italy for a series of travel specials. Amazingly, no one was murdered.
Ross Matthews, ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’
“Ross the Intern” was literally an intern working for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, who was selected by the producers to cover the Ocean’s 11 premiere. He did such a good job that he became a frequent contributor to the show, filming remote segments that were enjoyable mainly because they in no way involved Jay Leno.
David Tolley, ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’
In 1985, Carson’s Tonight Show had booked classical pianist Horacio Gutiérrez to play on the show. Unfortunately, the day of the taping, he injured his fingers in a car door and had to cancel. To fill his slot, at the end of the episode, Carson asked if anyone in the audience could play the piano. He randomly selected Tolley, a dude wearing flip-flops and a Nike T-shirt, who wowed the crowd with his rendition of “Memory” from Cats.
Tolley was such a hit he was even invited back onto the show — this time wearing an outfit that didn’t look like he was there to help a friend paint their apartment.
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