Words by Bill Bodkin | Live Photos by Sue
Disclaimer: This interview contains some salty language and topics. If this isn’t your thing, you’re missing out on a tremendous interview. You’ve been warned …
On a chance meeting at Caroline’s Comedy Club in New York City, two New Jersey natives — Don Jamieson of Lakehurst and Jim Florentine of Old Bridge — would bond over their three favorite things in the entire world: heavy metal, beer and strippers.
Their friendship would be the impetus for what they the two have become today: in-demand stand-up comics, Emmy award winners and major players within the world of metal music. The two now co-host VH1′s That Metal Show — a cult heavy metal talk show that attracted such hard-rock legends as Lemmy, Ronnie James Dio and Slash as guests.
If You Don’t Evolve As A Human, How Can You Evolve as a Comic: The Jim Florentine Story
Ask Florentine about his hometown of Old Bridge — in particular the go-go bar Club 516 and the equally shady Browntown Liquors — and a slow, nostalgic smile comes across his face.
Sitting in an office at Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., this would be the second time Florentine and I had had a discussion about his career.
B&B: We last spoke in 2006 about your career. How has it evolved since then?
Jim Florentine: I haven’t evolved at all. I’m still writing dick jokes and jokes about sex with fat chicks. If you don’t evolve as a human, how can you evolve as a comic? I mean, we’re all actually devolving as human beings.
Despite the self-deprecating humor, it seems Florentine’s career has done nothing but go through the roof since we last spoke. The formula for his success was simple: Just do what he loves and put it on stage.
“I mean who knew that listening to Ozzy records and making f—ing prank phone calls when I was 12 would allow me to be able to a pay a mortgage. Now that’s the American dream.”
In fact, his love of prank calls lead him to his break-out role as the voice of “Special Ed” on the hit Comedy Central and MTV series Crank Yankers. Florentine got the job based on his Terrorizing Telemarketers albums that he and Don Jamieson put together — which have been on heavy play on Howard Stern’s radio show.
“I thought people would hate [Special Ed] because they would see the character was retarded. But they [the producers] kept telling me that once people saw the puppet, they will love it.”
Special Ed debuted on the fourth episode of Crank Yankers, and in the mind of most, it’s the most memorable character in the show’s run. The character was so popular that during the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, Special Ed (with Florentine behind the podium) performed a sketch with Eminem.
Since the show’s demise, Florentine has been a regular on the radio with Opie & Anthony and Howard Stern, toured the country and landed small roles in films like Beer League. He is currently set to star in the Jenna Fisher/Chris O’Donnell dramedy A Little Help.
I Always Knew There Was a Way To Combine My Love For Comedy and Metal: The Don Jamieson Story
As a young lad in Lakehurst, Don Jamieson would listen to tapes of the comedy of George Carlin and Cheech & Chong under his pillow — so his parents wouldn’t hear the adult content of those albums. This started his love for stand-up comedy. But he first made his name in the comedy business by helping launch the careers of comics like Jon Stewart, Kevin James and Pauly Shore when he worked with MTV.
His actual stand-up career began when Florentine brought him to one of his gigs at a strip club in South Jersey. “What drove me to become a stand-up was the opener for the show. He was so bad — I mean zero laughs. But after he got off stage, the owner walked up to him and gave him money. I thought to myself, ‘Hey I could suck that bad and get paid for it!”
In between touring, Jamieson and Florentine would record the Terrorizing Telemarketers albums, as well as produce their prank series Meet The Creeps on Comedy Central’s website. This show scored them a part on HBO’s acclaimed Inside The NFL series. Jamieson and Florentine were the comic relief — performing crazy pranks like bringing members of the Dallas Cowboys offensive line to an all-you-can-eat buffet or attacking each other in the parking lot of Giants Stadium. The concept scored the duo any Emmy award.
Since then, Jamieson has been a non-stop touring comic, appeared on Crank Yankers and has opened for his comedic idols like the notorious Andrew Dice Clay.
How Busting Eddie Trunk’s Balls Became a Full-Time Job: The That Metal Show Story
Much like Don and Jim’s chance meeting at Caroline’s, their chance meeting with renowned radio and walking heavy metal encyclopedia DJ Eddie Trunk backstage at an Ozzfest, would be the jump off for one of the top music shows on the TV today- That Metal Show.
As life-long die-hard metal fans, both Jamieson and Florentine were huge fans of Trunk’s radio show — often listening on rides home from gigs.
For those unfamiliar, the show airs every Friday night on Q104.3 in New York. It is an absolutely comprehensive metal show that covers the genre’s entire spectrum and often features celebrity guest appearances by the likes of former baseball legend Mike Piazza and WWE wrestler Chris Jericho — moth metal-heads — as well as various metal musicians.
When Florentine and Jamieson met Trunk for the first time, love was in the air.
“Anyone who talk about Accept for 20 minutes is my friend,” Jamieson says.
The duo became regulars on the show, and the chemistry between the three (which involved metal talk and the comics busting on their quick- to-get-frustrated friend) was tremendous. So tremendous that Trunk went to his bosses at VmH1 Classic and pitched the idea for That Metal Show.
In November 2008, the show debuted and has become one of the station’s most popular shows. It’s so popular that it’s entering its fourth season in January 2010.
We’ve spoken before about That Metal Show on B&B, citing it at as one of the best programs on television.
“That Metal Show is like The Best Damn Sports Show Period for hard rock and heavy metal. To me, it’s like The Tonight Show for AC/DC fans,” Florentine says.
“It’s great working with my two best friends,” Jamieson says. “It’s great busting Eddie Trunk’s balls all the time. He’s like Charlie Brown with the football. Every week, he says, ‘I’m not going to get mad,’ and then when we do ‘Stump The Trunk’ [the show's trivia segment], we bust on him real hard. It’s great.”
Besides their on-screen camaraderie which generates its lions’ share of laughs, TMS also features the cream of the crop of heavy metal royalty and unique segments like Florentine and Jamieson having tea with Lemmy from Motorhead or asking former GNR and Velvet Revolver drummer Matt Sorum what his favorite porn site is.
For Florentine, his highlight was having Rob Halford of Judas Priest on. “I’ve been listening to this guy for 25 years, and then he comes on my show and says he TiVos it every week, and he’s a huge fan, and then actually talks about his favorite episodes.”
For Jamieson, he had a more obscure favorite: “Having Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy on was my geek out moment. I am a huge Thin Lizzy fan — they’re only known here for ‘The Boys Are Back In Town,’ but they are just good, man.”
This Or That with Don & Jim
While we talked extensively about both their careers, we actually did a little B&B “This or That” game with both Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine after their sets at Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club.
After a hilarious set filled with jokes about buying a Shamwow from Barak Obama, pleasuring himself to Sabado Gigante and Wesley Snipes drinking wild turkey while doing his taxes, Don sat down with us for these fine questions:
1. Iron Maiden or Judas Priest: Priest
2 Best Anthrax Singer — John Bush or Joey Belladona: Bush
3. George Carlin or Richard Pryor: Oh God … if I have to pick one … Pryor
4. Opinion on Metallica’s album Death Magnetic: AWESOME
5. Best Metal Box Set: Anything Motorhead box set
6. New Metal Bands We Should Be Listening To: Shadows Fall, Danko Jones, Kingdom Of Sorrow
Jim Florentine knocked ‘em dead with a set attacking romantic comedies, married couples living together, his hatred for the iPhone (especially the YouTube app) and people desperately buying milk and bread before a snowstorm he answered the same questions.
1. Iron Maiden or Judas Priest: Priest
2. Best Anthrax singer — John Bush or Joey Belladonna: Belladonna
3. George Carlin or Richard Pryor: (long pause) George Carlin
4. Opinion on Metallica’s album Death Magnetic: A masterpiece
5. Best Metal Box Set: (long pause) has to be AC/DC’s Bonfire
6. Newer Metal Bands You Should Be Listening To: Five Finger Death Punch, Danko Jones, Broken Teeth