If you read my column, North Jersey Notes, you know that I’m pretty tight with two of the three former hosts of the now defunct music TV talk show, That Metal Show. The only one that I really didn’t have a personal relationship with was co-host Jim Florentine, but it looks like that’s all about to change. I’ve been a fan of Jim’s work since the Terrorizing Telemarketers CDs and the Meet The Creeps DVDs were released. I’ve even interviewed him in the past with Don Jamieson and Eddie Trunk to promote their TV show. I would run into Jim and his son at metal concerts all the time, but for some reason, we never had the personal relationship that I have with Don and Eddie.
When I was sent a copy of Jim’s book Everybody Is Awful (Except You!), I read a few chapters and couldn’t stop laughing! I asked myself, how am I not tighter to this guy? We have the same sense of humor! And he’s funny as fuck! I immediately sent Jim a Facebook message to see if he wanted to chat about his new book, and he quickly responded, “Let’s do it!” I guess Jim did remember who I was and maybe we didn’t have a personal friendship because of me? I just chalked it up to the fact that he was just a private guy. Well, time to change that because Florentine is a funny dude.
I gave Jim a call a couple of weeks ago to talk about Everybody Is Awful (Except You!), life after That Metal Show, and our favorite topic…music! I swear, between Eddie, Don and Jim, I can talk music all day with those guys, but this chat is focused on promoting Jim’s new book, so here’s how it all went down.
Last time we spoke, besides seeing each other at concerts, we were backstage at That Metal Show. Since then, you’ve been in a movie, became a radio and podcast host, a recording artist, and now an author? What can’t you do?
Well, look, as a comic, you’re always trying different things. I started in radio at Brookdale Community College, and then I was on this little station in Hazlet, NJ called WCNJ, and I was the morning guy there. So, I’ve always been into the radio thing. Then I had my own deejay business. I was the heavy metal deejay at the Birch Hill Nite Club back in the late ‘80s. So, I’ve always been into it. But as a comic, you always want to branch out. You want to do different stuff other than stand-up and night clubs. So, I try to have my hand in a bunch of different things.
Well, writing a book shouldn’t have been too hard since you do a lot of writing anyway. Didn’t you and Don write a lot of skits together?
Yeah, we tried because you never know what’s going to hit. Like those Telemarketer CDs. Who knew that those were going to hit and everybody was going to love them? I just put them out just to get my name out there and get people into my shows. Instead it just blew up and I ended up on Howard Stern and getting Crank Yankers and basically making my career. So, you just never know. And as far as That Metal Show, who would have thought that me being a 12-year-old kid reading liner notes on the back of an album in my room — because I was a complete metalhead at that point — would get me on a TV show? And I wouldn’t have to do any research on any of the guests. My mom would be like, “Where are you going with those?” I would say, “I don’t know. I think one day, I might be on a heavy metal talk show!” [Laughs]
I love this book because you are so dead-on with your views on social media. I can actually feel your frustrations through your writing also…What sparked the idea to write Everybody Is Awful (Except You!)?
A lot of it is based on my podcast (“Comedy Metal Midgets”) where I just go on rants each week. So, I basically transcribed a lot of my podcast and cut them down. I have people out there where I say, “If you see something that I wouldn’t like on social media or whatever, or awful Facebook or Instagram posts, send it this email, and I’ll see what I can do with it.” So, I always have people sending stuff in to me all the time. I had ton of material, so I turned it into a book. It’s easier to pick on social media. There are some good things about it, but there are a lot of things that are awful and I just focus on that. It’s almost like being in a marriage and focusing on all of the negatives when there are a lot of positives.
One of the quotes in this book that resonated with me was “There is too much temptation on Facebook. It’s all just bragging and showing off. If you are even the slightest bit interested in cheating, watch out!” There really is no way to disagree with this quote…
Yeah, because you reconnect with people from your past, whether it was high school or college, or you dated, and it’s easier to reach out to her and send her a message and say, “Hey, how ya doin’? Are you happy in your relationship? No? Neither am I! Hey, we should meet for coffee!” And then it just starts from there. Before social media, you really couldn’t do that. If some girl you dated in college lived in Albany, NY, and you were in New Jersey, unless you wrote her a letter, it really wasn’t going to happen.
You got fellow metalhead Jim Norton to write the forward for the book, which was hilarious. I never realized how tight the two of you were, but why Norton as opposed to Don or Eddie?
I don’t know. I guess I thought of Jim right away because I know that he’s great with that stuff. We started doing comedy together and we have a good history and all that. So, I decided to just go with Jim on that. I figured he would do a good job, and he’d be really funny, not that those guys wouldn’t. Plus, me and Jim share the same manager, so that made it easy too. I was afraid to approach Jim and put him on the spot. Like if he didn’t want to do it. Because then he’d feel obligated and I hate doing that to people. So, I had my manager kind of mention it to him, and he said, “Yeah, I would do it in a second!” And then I asked, so it all worked out.
So, still pissed at the Scorpions? After reading that story, I felt like I’ve been there once or twice in my lifetime also…
It took me like three years to get over it. It’s amazing that I was that clueless. I didn’t realize that they didn’t want to talk to me. They didn’t want me backstage.
Did you ever see that girl again?
No! I didn’t even have her number. This was probably ‘84 or ‘85 at the Spectrum in Philly. I just met her at the show and we were just hangin’, and she was like, “We’re gonna go backstage.” And that’s when you used to be able to hook up. Girls would always hook up with you at concerts. Like the ‘80s and early ‘90s, you just make out with girls, but now you don’t even think about it. I mean there are no girls at metal shows anyway, but it was always like a big party, which was great! I just remember calling her name and she never looked back, like she wanted nothing to do with me. At the time I just couldn’t understand it.
You also discussed Meet The Creeps in this book and I loved that DVD series also! You and Don were the original Impractical Jokers! I keep asking Don for you guys to put out a new DVD, and I know his answer, what are your thoughts?
Well, we did a pilot for Comedy Central with the hidden-camera show Meet The Creeps, but it didn’t get picked up because they said we were too mean spirited. With our pranks, we didn’t want to reveal anything at the end. To me, I always hated when they go, “Oh hey, by the way, there’s a camera right there.” And they’re like “Oh, you got me!” Ours just faded to black and people were like “Man, what happened? Was that person really mad?” I’d rather keep it like that.
I could see where they thought our stuff might have been mean because it ends, like, badly. But then again, they thought it was too rough and after 2006 and 2007 when we did all of that stuff, the hidden-camera stuff that was coming out like Jackass, was way worse than what we were doing. So, I think we were way ahead of our time doing that stuff.
And hey, the Impractical Jokers do it great! I love those guys! They’re really nice guys and good for them. I’m glad that got their success. You just never know when it’s gonna come around. Who would have thought that a heavy metal talk show would be on the air for eight years? You wouldn’t think that either. It was just the right time for it and it just worked.
The funny thing is that you guys are still getting gigs because of the show, right? Even with the show not on the air…
Oh yeah! It’s really helping me and Don with our stand-up. Drawing on the road because a lot of people watching that show didn’t even know we were comics. It was a whole other audience for us, which was great! So, now they’re all coming to our stand-up shows, so it helps us. Me and Don are basically night club comics and we’ve been doing it for over 20 years. Now, that they watch the show, they’re like the classic rock fans that will keep coming to see your shows all the time or whenever you come around. So, we built up a nice base just from that show.
Back to Everybody Is Awful (Except You!); you said that it’s the book version of your podcast Comedy Metal Midgets and you mention Gary from Florida in the book a lot. What’s so special about Gary from Florida?
I don’t know. I put these little rants in there about how I don’t like Dunkin Donuts, and how I think ketchup is for kids, and stuff like that — and Gary from Florida, people love him on my podcast. He’s just this real honest guy who lives in down in Florida, and he’s had sex with a bunch of different women and has these crazy stories, so I put him on the podcast and people love him. So, I just put some excerpts from the podcast of him in the book about him hooking up with all these girls and stuff. He’s like an old school guy and nobody talks like that anymore. It’s refreshing to hear and people love it! He bought a record store in Florida for like $400,000 just so he can have sex with girls on the cooler in the back. That was his goal. That was the main reason why he bought the record store. He’s a creep, in a good way.
Is there any story that you wrote for this book that didn’t quite make it in the final edit?
No. It’s funny because this company had no notes at all. They basically wanted to know two things. This was the company that put out all of the rock books like Scott Ian’s book, Corey Taylor’s book, and Duff McKagan. So, I talked to Corey and he’s like, “Dude, this company is great! They let you just be. They don’t bother you. They really don’t edit anything.” So, the only two notes that I got back were that I couldn’t really say there were dangerous chemicals in the pumpkin spice latte because I might get sued over that. Because I made fun of pumpkin spice lattes that people get at Starbucks, so they asked me to change that wording so we don’t get sued.
And two, is Jim Norton that much of a degenerate? [Laughs] And is he okay with everything that is in the book? That was it! Those were the two notes that I got! I go, “He is! And he’s fine with whatever I wrote.” And they said, “Okay, we’re just making sure.” [Laughs]
I used to love your new music picks on That Metal Show, so what are you listening to these days?
Um…what am I listening to? Oh, you know who I saw and I missed the boat on? I was just in L.A. and I went to The Viper Room and saw that band Junkyard. Dude, I never got into those guys. I knew that one song and I never knew anything about them. I saw them live and it was pretty much the original band and they were pretty good! They almost reminded me of a Guns ‘N’ Roses.
I’ve also been listening to, and I know everyone is on this band, but I think they’re great…Greta Van Fleet. It’s weird because I remember when Kingdom Come came out, there was such a backlash on them because they sounded just like Led Zeppelin, and they did, so people didn’t give them a chance, but Greta Van Fleet, they do sound like Zeppelin, but not every song, and for some reason most of the people are giving them a pass because they’re doing it way better than Kingdom Come, in my opinion.
The second EP that they released a couple of months ago doesn’t really sound like Zeppelin like the four earlier songs do. The four newer ones have more of a ‘70s Bad Company, Creem, there’s a little bit of everything in there. I saw them at the Mercury Lounge in NYC about six months ago for about 400 people and it was unbelievable. The crowd was not filled with young people. There were middle-aged dudes and a middle-aged crowd, but I’ve never seen people so happy at a show because they were witnessing…“I was here when this band played the Mercury Lounge.” That was the vibe in the crowd. Now, they announced a new tour and every show has sold out in 30 minutes or less. I can’t remember the last time I saw a band with this much momentum. It’s great for rock!
One last question…Do you really believe that Ozzy and Slayer are really done with touring after these tours?
Well, Ozzy has already said that he’ll do some one-off shows here and there, so that’s how a band gets out of it. Well, they’ll do Madison Square Garden for two nights in two years, then they’ll do the L.A. Forum, and maybe Chicago, so it’s not really a tour. It’s just a random date or a festival. These festivals they get paid a lot of money and they’re running out of headliners, so there’s always a ton of money there for them. So, they pick up a million dollars to do an hour and a half set? Absolutely! Slayer? I don’t know. I think they’re still too young, but you never know. They might go away for a couple of years. They’ve been touring non-stop. Maybe they’re just burnt out from touring and they wait two or three years and they come back.
Me and Don Jamieson, I think we’re the only two who think this that I know of, but we think that Motley Crue will be definitely be back. I know they will! The offers are going to be more and more with a lot of these big bands going into retirement. You know, Tommy Lee just got engaged to some 28-year-old Instagram model (Brittany Furlan), and you know if she doesn’t sign a pre-nup, he’s going to need to go back out on tour because he’s going to lose all his money. [Laughs] That’s the way that I look at it. As soon as these guys get married to these young woman and they say, “Oh, I was so in love that I didn’t sign a pre-nup!” Paul McCartney didn’t with that one-legged woman that he married too. And then they take all of their money, so they have to go back on tour to recoup that money! So, I love all of those guys, but I’m rooting for their relationships to fail, so I can see them on stage again! [Laughs] It’s very selfish of me, but I want to see Motley one more time!
Jim Florentine is hilarious and so is his new book, Everybody Is Awful (Except You!). Also, check out his podcast Comedy Metal Midgets. For more on Jim Florentine and every piece of media he’s involved in and his stand-up dates, visit JimFlorentine.com.