Interview with Jim Florentine
By Rob LeBrun
TWO DRINK MINIMUM Issue 8 April 2004
Jim Florentine voices Special Ed and Bobby Fletcher on Comedy Central's Crank Yankers, but Florentine is also a very accomplished stand-up comedian, having had gigs on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, to name a recent few. Florentine regularly travels the U.S. as a headliner and can often be seen with Howard Stern regulars such as KC Armstrong, Artie Lang and The Rev. Bob Levy.

Florentine recently released a DVD entitled Meet the Creeps, a hidden-camera style project that's more offensive than you'd expect. Florentine has also gained fame from a successful string of CDs entitled Terrorizing Telemarketers, which makes anyone in the telemarketing industry wary of placing a call to New York. During a recent visit to the New York Comedy Club in Boca Raton, Fla., Florentine graciously spoke to Two Drink about abortion, sex noises and retards.

You have a DVD out, Meet the Creeps. Tell us about it.

It's cool. It's a hidden-camera DVD, where we just go around and fuck with people. We went to a grocery store and put strange things into other people's carts, and a good one was shot in Chinatown. We went to one of those supermarkets that have huge fish tanks, and we used our own fishing poles, trying to catch our own fish. There are a bunch of comedians on it, like Artie Lang, Jim Norton and Don Jamieson. Its not like Candid Camera where it ends with the cutesy, "You're on Candid Camera!" Every bit ends in frustration, and the people are pissed off.

In your Terrorizing Telemarketers series, you often piss off telemarketers by dodging questions and being vague. Have you ever had a call result in a different outcome than you had planned?

There was a call I had to take off the latest CD because I was almost arrested after it. I was living with Jim Norton at the time, and I turned this call into a fake abortion scene. When I picked up the phone, I told my girlfriend to start screaming like she was in pain. The caller asked if everything was OK, and I told her that my buddy had just given my girlfriend an abortion with a coat hanger, but not to worry about it; she was OK. She thought it was real and hung up. Before I could call her back, she had traced the call, and called the police. The cops busted down my door - three cop cars, EMS, an ambulance - and I had to go downtown. I got a ticket for disorderly conduct, and the telemarketing company sent me like five letters saying that they would sue me if that tape was released. I am gonna try it again on a future album. Hopefully they won't get upset this time, cause that is too good a call. Abortion is always funny.

Has your girlfriend helped out in other calls?

She was the background noise for the "Horny Priest" call on my last CD. Her and Don Jamieson made the sex noises like a porno was being played in the background; she was really moaning up a storm. She doesn't moan that much when she's with me. I don't know why. Maybe it's cause I'm only packing two inches. I dunno.

How do you go about getting the calls for your CDs?

Well, now that the cops have been to my house three times, they know what I'm up to. So now I go over to my buddy Chuck's house - he lives in another town - because they don't know us there. Throughout the week, anytime Chuck gets a call, he tells them that he is interested in the product, but that he is busy having sex and to call back next Monday or Tuesday. Then we are there waiting, all day long, for the people to start calling. It's kinda depressing. Waiting three days for five or six calls. One of our friends will call, and we'll get pissed: "Man, I thought you were a telemarketer!"

There are rumors about a TV pilot featuring you and Jim Norton called Couch Potato. What ever happened to that?

It was the worst piece of shit ever. It was a good idea originally. It started out as a group of people living in an apartment: a married couple, two single chicks and two Beavis and Butthead-style guys; me and Jim. Something happens, like the heat goes out, and everyone is intertwined, passing the time by commenting and making fun of videos. It was a good idea, but as they got more writers, it went to hell. They wanted to add a gay character and a baby, and it turned into a piece of shit. Jim Norton almost got fired off the set because he wouldn't say "moron" instead of "retard." He told them that when his buddy does something stupid, he doesn't call him a moron like Curly in TheThree Stooges did; he calls him a retard. The execs wouldn't have it. Jim was making $200 a week, but he didn't give a fuck. He stuck to his guns. You gotta respect that. Plus he got the hookers. How could you not?

Were you drunk on Jimmy Kimmel Live?

You can [be] if you want. Jimmy's show is the greatest! They have the most incredible green room. It's an open bar for about four hours, with pool tables and video games back there. You can just hang out and drink before and after. But you can't bring it out to the set; the execs canned that idea after the first show. It's not like the old days of Johnny Carson, where Dean Martin and Don Rickles would come out loaded. ABC, those big babies...remember TheTonight Show with Leno, where the whole cast of Cheers came out trashed? It was hilarious! "Oh, we don't want to see drunk people on TV, but Arnold Schwarzenegger can shoot up fuckin' 85 people with a machine gun at 8:00, as long as you don't show drunk people at midnight." Scumbags.

How did you like being on Tough Crowd? Is it rehearsed? Who are some of your favorite comedians to party with?

There aren't many comedians that still party. Most are either dry or they party hard. I would say probably Artie Lang, KC Armstrong and Bob Levy. Those guys go out afterwards and drink. Dave Attell is old school; that guy can drink! I would really like to go on tour with him cause he likes to drink and stay out late. But you know what, some guys don't drink at all because the club owners will blame a bad crowd on the comedian being drunk and not place the blame on the dull crowd. Hey, we're comics. As long as we are funny, we should be able to go up there with a heroin needle sticking out of our neck if we want to.

How has the banning of Howard Stern on the airwaves affected you?

It has affected all of us, whether we are regulars on the Stern show or not. Take for example the PR spots we do at local radio stations before our shows. With all the shit going on with the FCC, we are very limited on what we can say to promote our shows. Everything has to be non-offensive and all nice-nice. How can I promote my offensive show if I can't be myself on the radio? It sucks. Next thing you know, someone will write a letter about me on the radio, and then I won't be allowed to return. Then it could go so far as someone complaining about my show at the club, and then I won't be able to get work because I will be labeled "the offensive guy." People, it's just comedy. If it offends you, don't listen to it. But don't let your inability to laugh at others, as well as yourself, change stand-up comedy for those that enjoy it. Who wants to hear an hour-long set of Christian knock-knock jokes?

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