For many, Todd Barry’s introduction came via his guest appearances on Louie, playing an acerbic, pompous stand-up comedian who is constantly cutting Louie down to size. That persona, and his soft-spoken, subdued hubris, is how Barry has been presenting himself for decades in his stand-up act. With the precision of a master origami paper-folder, Barry has turned being an introverted prick into an art. And thanks to the powers of the internet, and Barry’s own Tumblr, we now have evidence of just how far back Todd Barry has been his own muse.
In this 1982 clip from Late Night With David Letterman, the host reads a viewer letter that boasts of the author’s skill in impersonating sidekick “Paul Schaeffer” [sic]. From the penmanship to the goofy nickname, the letter reads like something a child would have written. The ruse works, and Letterman calls the then-18-year-old Todd “Razz” Barry, who proceeds to quietly sass Letterman, and boast of his first national media exposure (happening at that moment). The video then jumps ahead to 1984, when Letterman gets the last laugh. The fact that Barry saved grainy VHS recordings of both encounters shows how much the appearance really meant to him, but it‘s a credit to the young comic how well he could stay in character, even when talking to Late Night’s greatest host.