The year is 1997. It is Bryant Gumbel’s final day as host of the Today show on NBC. Tears have been welling up in eyes, heartfelt goodbyes will be delivered shortly, and a young, slightly shaggier-haired version of Matt Lauer is standing nearby, preparing to take over as host. All is quiet, all is relatively calm.
Laughter fills the air. The show grinds to a halt. A mysterious man enters from just off-stage. He looks familiar, but… No. It couldn’t be. Is that… ? Why… ? But the suit… ? Oh my God.
OH MY GOD.
IT’S PRINCE. PRINCE IS DRESSED LIKE BRYANT GUMBEL. IN THE SUIT AND GLASSES AND EVERYTHING. PRINCE IS IN A BRYANT GUMBEL COSTUME. ON LIVE TELEVISION. THIS IS HAPPENING.
As usual when it comes to matters of Wondrous Moments in Prince History, we have Questlove to thank for this reminder. The Roots mastermind posted the above video on his Instagram this morning along with the following caption…
“Diggin thru the archives at work. Gumble got his answer on his last day at NBC as to whether or not Prince can rock a “regular” suit and tie. Might use this for class lol. #prince101
… which was nice of him for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the fact that the YouTube video of the appearance (which also includes Prince playing “a medley, complete with personalized lyrics for Gumbel,” according to HuffPo), is blocked in this country, presumably for Prince-related reasons. What’s the point of even having an Internet if it’s not gonna have video of the time Prince pranked Bryant Gumbel by dressing like Bryant Gumbel, you know? This was necessary.
Two notes in closing:
- You could make a pretty good argument that by dressing in silky/fuzzy/leather/tight-fitting neon purples and yellows for his entire adult life, your basic Brooks Brothers suit and tie is actually the most shocking outfit Prince has even worn.
- It looks so weird to see the usual Prince swagger inside that corporate America package. It almost doesn’t even make sense. It’s kind of like if you saw a peacock in a beige J. Crew cardigan walk into a country club.
Someone find me a hi-res version of this screenshot and email it to me. I want to hang it in my living room.