Michael Ian Black Was ‘Mortified’ After Letterman Show Cut ‘Offensive’ Anecdote

It’s not unusual for late-night guests to look back on a particular appearance and feel they could have done better. But comedian Michael Ian Black got confirmation of that when he appeared on Late Show with David Letterman.

Describing what sounds like any Letterman fan’s worst nightmare, Black recalled sharing an anecdote that the host apparently found so offensive, he cut it from the show. He told the story on LateNighter’s podcast, Inside Late Night with Mark Malkoff.

After a “starstruck” debut Late Show appearance in 2005 that Black felt could have gone better, the comic made sure he was prepared when he was invited back to the program in 2012.

“I’d been telling this story in my stand-up act about going to a strip club with Meghan McCain,” Black shared. “And she hired a dancer… to give me what she was calling ‘the upside down.’ And it is exactly as it’s described: She comes over and she positions herself upside down in such a way that your face is situated next to a part of her body that maybe you don’t want to be situated next to.”

“I had cleared this story with the producer on Letterman,” Black noted. Letterman’s team had no objections. “Dave’s whole thing is he’s sort of a prude about sex, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna play into that and have it be a funny story.’”

Before Black’s segment, however, the mood at the show shifted. “Justin Bieber is on before me. He runs long. Letterman said something to him that caused Dave to think he had offended Bieber,” Black remembered. “Dave was, I think, sort of weirded out that he had said whatever he had said to Bieber, and wasn’t really paying attention to me when I was on the show.”

Black told his strip club anecdote as planned.

“I told the story, it got a lot of laughs. I was like, ‘Oh, it went really well,’” Black said. “Then I got a call afterwards from my buddy Rob Burnett, who runs [Letterman’s production company] Worldwide Pants.” (Burnett, who executive produced Late Show, also wrote and produced Ed, the TV show Black starred on from 2000-2004, for Letterman’s company.)

Burnett broke the news to Black: “My story had offended Dave and the producers, and they were going to cut it—or I don’t know what they were going to do, like cut my appearance way down.

“And I was so mortified, and just like humiliated,” the Wet Hot American Summer star explained. “Apparently I had offended everybody on staff by telling this story. It was horrible. I felt so bad.”

LateNighter spoke to Letterman archivist Don Giller, who confirmed that Black’s Late Show interview indeed contains an edit in the middle (and runs a scant four minutes).

Black didn’t get another chance to appear on Letterman’s show, though the host did once send Black a short note thanking the actor for his work on Ed. Black has kept the note ever since.

Elsewhere on this week’s episode of Inside Late Night, Black reflects on almost becoming the host of The Late Late Show, destroying the set of The Jon Stewart Show, and Conan losing The Tonight Show.

Inside Late Night is on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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