Here’s a reprint of a News-Times interview I did with comic Jim “Yay, I’ve got mail” Florentine, pictured above with his lady friend, Ms. Robin Ophelia Quivers. He was a heck of a nice guy and didn’t say a bad word about anyone — even though I tried my best to goad him.
Cringe comic Jimmy Florentine! ! !
During an exclusive, 19-minute interview with The News-Times, Jim Florentine said dating Robin Quivers is a high-maintenance nightmare and Artie Lange is a cry-baby hop-head. Nah, he didn’t say anything even remotely close to that.
But the guy beyond the “Yay, I’ve got mail” voice from the old “Crank Yankers” show did plug his 7:30 p.m. appearance Sunday at the Treehouse Comedy Club in Danbury — and his latest comedy CD, “Anger is a Gift.”
News-Times: Tell me everything you know about Danbury.
Jim Florentine: Um . . . (long pause). I know there used to a Ground Round that I used to perform at there. It was tough to tell jokes while a guy was vacuuming up peanut shells.
NT: Your show is on a Sunday night. Is that an optimal night for comedy?
Florentine: It’s an early show. The married people can be home by 8:30 and the husband can go sleep on the couch.
NT: You’re dating Howard Stern Show co-host Robin Quivers, who’s known for being sophisticated and high class. You’re known for your love of flatulence. Does she having you doing things and going places against your will?
Florentine: In any relationship, with whatever chick you have, you’re going somewhere you don’t want to be. You gotta do some of that stuff. I’ll go anywhere once just for the experience. It’s good for comedy, so you have something to write about.
NT: Have you worked your high-profile romance with Quivers into your act?
Florentine: People want to know about it when I’m up on stage. They talk about it on the (Howard Stern) show non-stop, so fans already know what’s going on. (Quivers) is a cool chick. She’s not a controlling little girl like most of these girls are, you know? She’s independent, she’s got her own life going on, so that’s cool.
NT: Your “Meet the Creeps” DVD is full of pranks on unsuspecting rubes. Have you ever pulled an especially cruel prank and then felt sorry afterward?
NT: Not even close?
Florentine: Look, it’s a prank. It doesn’t bother me. It’s like asking an actor ‘Have you ever felt bad for playing a rapist or a murderer in a movie?’ You can’t over analyze it.
NT: What was your reaction to your friend Artie Lange’s outburst against his assistant on Stern‘s Sirius show earlier this month?
Florentine: It’s sad. Hopefully everything works out.
NT: Who could replace Artie?
Florentine: I don’t know, man. The guy isn’t replaceable. He’s a very interesting guy. I hope, as a friend, that everything is good.
NT: Which stand-up comics did you rise through the ranks with?
Florentine: Jim Norton was my roommate. We both started at the same time. (We lived) in north Jersey. Bob Levy helped us both out. He let us open up for him because he liked that we were two creeps. Rich Vos was another guy who took a liking to us and took us under his wing.
NT: You’re part of the “cringe humor” crew. It seemed that observational comedy ruled stand-up for years — that and dopey guys like Ray Romano talking about their families. Why did guys like you, Norton and Vos break through?
Florentine: It comes in waves. Guys like (Sam) Kinison and Dice (Andrew “Dice” Clay) were big back in the day. (Bob) Schimmel was still around back then. Those were guys that were brutally honest. They just kind of laid it out there and were really funny, edgy, dirty and raunchy. Then it went away for awhile. I think the exposure with the Internet and radio changed everything. You don’t have to just work on getting a clean, five-minute set and then getting a sitcom on TV. I never subscribed to that formula. I was never going to be the guy with the corny wife and family and two kids.
NT: Do you hate Dane Cook?
Florentine: I’ve got nothing against him. A lot of comics don’t like him because he’s on top. A lot of people are jealous. Before him it was Larry the Cable Guy. A lot of comics didn’t like him because he was popular…
NT: Who is the most underrated stand-up comic today?
Florentine: (Very long pause) Judah Friedlander (of “30 Rock” fame).
NT: How come the Rev. Bob Levy gets plugs at the end of “The Howard Stern Show” but you don’t?
Florentine: He had a thing where he did the roasts and that was his payment, you know what I mean?
NT: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen at a “Killers of Comedy” road show?
Florentine: Bob Levy saying no to cocaine.
NT: You pulled out of the “Miserable Men” show on Sirius radio. Why?
Florentine: I wanted to get paid.
NT: That’s important.
Florentine: Yeah, especially when they tell ya you’re going to get paid, then you work nine months for free and you still don’t get paid. I loved doing the show, but I was cancelling gigs to come back to New York to get there.
NT: Who has better stand-up material? Shuli or Sal the Stockbroker?
Florentine: I don’t know. I’d say about the same. They’re both really funny guys. I don’t analyze comics that much. They both get laughs.