David Letterman surprised Drew Barrymore on a special birthday episode of The Drew Barrymore Show Monday, and after a discussion about her life and their shared love of old movies, the conversation in this clip inevitably comes around to that infamous moment back in April of 1995 when Barrymore got on Letterman's Late Show desk and surprised him with a flash.
Barrymore actually got on the table in front of Letterman on the couch in a call back to that moment, before she called for them to roll the clip. Of course, there was no flashing this time, as she is no longer a 20-year-old "wild child."
Letterman recalled that his initial thought process in that moment was more worry that he had "lost control of the class" when she first got up on that desk, comparing it to the film Blackboard Jungle (speaking of old movies) when juvenile delinquents take over the classroom and get up on Glenn Ford's desk, threatening to beat him up. "She climbs up on the desk, and I thought to myself 'oh, no, I've lost control of the class!' And then my next thought was 'I think I'm probably going to get kicked!'"
That was a reasonable concern, if you recall the other infamous incident on Late Night when Crispin Glover nearly did kick him in the face.
"Then everything changed," Letterman said of the moment of the flash. "You know, like in The Wizard of Oz when it goes from black-and-white to color? That's what it was like."
For her part, Barrymore said "I had no plan of doing that. It was one of those moments in my life when I felt like a magnet was pulling me, and it was all very playful and well-intended, and I just had no idea where it was going... I think, a little bit, I was on the ride, too, wondering what was going to happen next, and you taught me in that moment how to be as a human being, because I was shocked and I almost was like 'should I be embarrassed? Did I do something bad? Am I in trouble?' I knew in that moment that, with one turn, you could have gone 'why did you do that? What's wrong with you?' Instead, you had that smile, and you said to everyone 'this moment is okay.'"
"Well, I recognized it immediately as being unique," Letterman responded. "It had not happened prior to me, has not happend since to me, and later, I was thinking 'oh, jeez, now what if she goes and does this on [Jay] Leno's show? Then I'll really be upset.'"
They both recognized that the moment also served to connect them throughout the rest of their lives, and Letterman said he considered his relationship with Barrymore over the years since then to be a "true friendship" and not just a "show business friendship."
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Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.