Thursday, January 26, 2006

John Melendez is the second member of the Howard Stern cast I've interviewed (voice actor Billy West is the other). I'm not a big fan of Stern's radio show, although his television series he did in 1990 or so from WOR was a very guilty pleasure.

I think Stern has an element of genius about him in recognizing that presenting material that would appeal to 13 year-old bots who just learned to masterbate would ensure him a permanent audience of adult men.

In any event, here's what I wrote about the Artist Formerly Known as Stuttering John.

John Melendez has a list of his greatest hits, but none of them involve music.

The Howard Stern alumni, who spent much of his 15 years with the "King of All Media" ambushing celebrities with outrageous questions, recalled how Raquel Welch punched him in the nose and how Sharon Stone's bodyguard "laid him out."
Joan Rivers insulted his looks, but Melendez thought she was funny.

These days, though, Melendez doesn't have to worry about dodging punches. As the announcer on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Melendez gets to act in comedy sketches and go on the street as a correspondent.

Now he is touring as a stand-up comic. Melendez, formerly known as "Stuttering John," Modi (frequent guest on The Howard Stern Show) and Ross the Intern (currently on The Tonight Show) all perform at The Comedy Connection Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee on January 28 at two shows.

Melendez appeared at the Chicopee comedy club about three years ago and said, "It's great."

He has been performing comedy for the last four years, something he has wanted to do since he was a child watching The Carol Burnett Show and Saturday Night Live.

Yet what held him back was being "terrified of getting on stage and bombing."

That fear abated when Melendez realized his gig with Howard Stern required considerable courage and that he "had the nerves to ask a celebrity about bowel movements."

He has been writing jokes for years and has "always wanted to do [stand up comedy.]"

Through therapy, Melendez has overcome his stutter and had to prove to NBC executives that he could do the announcing chores on The Tonight Show without a hitch. He was first offered a job as a correspondent on the show after he had completed his appearance in the reality show I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here. He recalled lying on his cot and fantasizing about being on The Tonight Show.

Much to his amazement, when he returned from the show, there was an offer for him. He had to turn it down as he was "getting crap from Stern about being gone too long."

A second offer was also turned down, but Melendez accepted the third and last offer.

"It was time for me to go," he said. "There were no hard feelings. It was the right move to make."

He said that being on The Tonight Show is the "complete opposite of the show I was on before."

Melendez had started with Stern as an intern and spent 15 years on the show. He said he enjoyed doing the hit and run interviews of celebrities, although there came a point when many of his interview subjects played along with the gag, rather than be insulted.

"It was less interesting," he said.

He recalled disguising himself in order to catch people off guard, but he was still recognized.

Melendez said he had both "good times and bad times" on the Stern show and he was invited to be on the last broadcast before Stern made his move to satellite radio. He didn't attend because of a scheduling problem.


Marky Mark said...

I occasionally listened to Stern in the morning commute if NPR was boring (those were the choices - NPR / Stern / book on tape... everything else SUX).

That guy annoyed the hell outa me. I never got it - just going up and being rude to people, very ballsy but I never laughed or was entertained by him. I agree with you, that show had flashes of brilliance, but Stuttering John was not one for me.

In the Last Days Stern and crew kept talking about the weasely way that Stuttering John and Jay Leno engineered John's new gig behind their backs. They all said they thought it was slimey, but they weren't mad and they kinda wished John was comfortable coming back for the farewells, but they all assumed he felt too guilty and embarrassed. Who knows, maybe there really was a scheduling conflict, and Howard's ego could not admit that anything was more important than him.

I have never seen John on Leno. I hope it's funnier than the Stern stuff, Or at least interesting.

SRBissette said...

Stern, Stuttering John, etc. is proof that modern alchemy works. Shit=gold.

Marty said...

I like Stern. Even got Sirius primarily because of him. And even though I often turn him off (prank phone calls and mentally challenged "guests" are hard to defend/enjoy), I find the guy funny.

Stuttering John was never an assett to the show, and is not a particularly talented guy, but Howard Stern, Artie Lange, and Fred Norris are professional comedians and, with the help of others, are able to fill 5 hours a day with pretty good stuff. Not easy.