Whether or not you find comedian Jim Florentine funny at first may depend on which side of his joke you’re on. If you like your humor on the edgier side, then you’re probably already familiar with the infamous prankster and co-host of “That Metal Show.”
He’ll pull no punches when he performs at Gypsies Lounge & Nightclub at Mt. Airy Casino Resort on Saturday, April 30, at 8 p.m.
Even as a child, Florentine said he was a sarcastic troublemaker. Being grounded only gave him the opportunity to make prank phone calls.
“I just did that out of boredom. I’d just be sitting home, so I’d pick up the phone and start making prank phone calls. I had nothing better to do with my time. Who’d have known that I’d make a living out of it later on in life?” Florentine said.
The habit continued when he started in stand-up comedy. While waiting to perform later in the night, he’d answer calls from telemarketers and attempt to keep them on the phone as long as possible, eventually recording five “Terrorizing Telemarketers” albums of pranks on unsuspecting salesmen.
This caught the attention of fellow comedians Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel, who hired him for the Comedy Central hit “Crank Yankers” in 2002.
Using puppets to reenact the prank calls, Florentine voiced the characters “Special Ed” and his rude cousin “Bobby Fletcher” for the duration of the show’s run. While he never walked away from offensive material, the show had few complaints about its often edgy content.
“It’s a puppet, so somehow you can get away with it. Even cartoons – “Family Guy,” “South Park,” all that stuff – somehow, if it’s coming through a puppet or a cartoon, it’s OK in some weird way. I don’t know how that works,” Florentine said.
With comedy partner Don Jamieson, he released two DVDs of hidden camera high jinks called “Meet The Creeps.” The concept was considered for a TV series, but he said that executives found it “too mean.”
“Any time you do a hidden camera prank or just a prank in general, it’s going to be mean, whether it’s a little innocent fun or whatever,” Florentine said. “I guess it’s because in our bits, we don’t reveal and go, ‘Hey, we were just joking around,’ and everyone’s all, ‘Oh, you got me!’ We don’t do that. I don’t like that. I like it to just fade to black and people go, ‘What the hell just happened?’ To me, that’s more exciting.”
Florentine also has a passion for hard rock and heavy metal music that he’s been able to work into his career. He joined Jamieson and Eddie Trunk to co-cost “That Metal Show” on VH1 Classic in 2008. Currently in its seventh season, Florentine said he found most of the rockers he’s met to be down-to-earth, enjoying his interview with Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward the most.
“(Ward)’s really sharp. He’s got some great stories, and you don’t hear too much from him…Just to have him on telling old Black Sabbath stories was great,” he recalled.
Florentine took his comedy to same stage as metal greats Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer during last year’s American Carnage Tour, which was a “challenge,” to say the least.
“I had to do three five-minute sets between each band. By the time Slayer came on…the people in the crowd were like, ‘Alright, enough already! We know you’re a comedian! C’mon!’ So I’d bring hot Jager girls, because I was the Jagermeister emcee, to try and distract them so they could at least look at eye candy and so they don’t throw crap at me,” Florentine cracked.
Currently working on material for a new comedy album to be released by Metal Blade Records, Florentine said he is “really psyched” to perform in the area again after several years away and experience the freedom to say and do whatever he pleases.
“I love doing the stand-up. I’ll always be doing that because I’m my own boss up there and I can do whatever I want. I can basically go to work drunk wearing an AC/DC shirt. I’ve always wanted that freedom,” he said.
Who: Comedian Jim Florentine
Where: Gypsies Lounge & Nightclub at Mt. Airy Casino Resort
When: Saturday, April 30, doors at 8 p.m., show at 9