The Guy Under the Seats was one of Chris Elliott
's first regular characters on David Letterman
's NBC Late Night talk show. As the name implies, Elliott played a guy who lived under the studio risers
. The Guy Under the Seats would pop up from a trap door at weird times during the show and claim some high drama (a mine shaft disaster, a Russian sub disaster, Chris is being crowned king of the mole people
, etc) was going on in his magic realm under the seats.
The bit's humor was two fold. One was Elliott trying to sell whatever he claimed was happening under the seats with a marvelous child-like innocence
. The other was the way a smirking, standoffish
Letterman would humor Elliott. By the piece's end, Elliott would clue in that Letterman was only humoring him from "on high" and he'd return to his underworld
with the chilling promise
"Never forget I'm here under the seats, watching you, always. I'll be back, Mr. Big Shot
Letterman, to make your life a living hell."
The Guy Under the Seats character premiered October 15, 1984. While Letterman was plugging the next night's show, he was interrupted by some drilling
sounds coming from the audience. Upon inspection he found Chris Elliott. Elliott explained the Guy Under the Seats would be a 28 episode series within Letterman's talk show
Despite Elliott's assertion, only about a dozen Guy Under the Seats were ever done (including "Chris and Pinky", "The Cookout", "The Book Worm", "Disaster in Shaft 9", "The Ski Bum
", "King of the Mole People", "The Russian Sub Crisis", "Roosevelt - a One-Man Show", "All in Good Fun", "The Dead Man's Ring").
The final episode was "The Great White Whale" and aired on April 10, 1985. A few months later, Elliott resurrected the segment by combining it with his fugitive guy
character in "A Pinch of Salt, a Dash of Death" The Guy Under the Seats made another appearance December 11 1985 when Elliott unveiled a lost, black and white Christmas theme episode: "Miracle Under the Seats". Interesting enough, this bit featured a very very young Sarah Michelle Gellar