John Melendez

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John Melendez
BornJohn Edward Melendez
(1965-10-04) October 4, 1965 (age 46)
Massapequa, New York, U.S.
OccupationRadio personality
Writer
Years active1989–present
SpouseSuzanna Keller
 
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John Melendez
BornJohn Edward Melendez
(1965-10-04) October 4, 1965 (age 46)
Massapequa, New York, U.S.
OccupationRadio personality
Writer
Years active1989–present
SpouseSuzanna Keller

John Edward Melendez (born October 4, 1965), commonly known as "Stuttering John,"[1] is an American television writer and former radio personality. Prior to his work on television as a writer and announcer, Melendez was a regular on-air personality on The Howard Stern Show. He became known for asking impertinent questions of celebrities on the red carpet and at press conferences with his stuttering.

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Early years

Melendez grew up in Massapequa, Long Island and attended Plainedge High School.[1][2][3] Melendez began to stutter when he was in the second grade. According to Melendez, his problem came about because of the psychological mistreatment from his father[citation needed], who also stutters. Both he and his father suffer from a form of obsessive compulsive disorder.

In 1988, Melendez attended New York University's film school, and belonged to a band called "Rock Slide." His college roommate, comedian Mitch Fatel, was on the verge of quitting his internship with The Howard Stern Show, when Melendez asked him for a recommendation for an internship there. The show's producer, Gary Dell'Abate, mentioned Melendez's stuttering to Howard Stern who, without seeing him and even before he was interviewed, told the producer to hire him.[4]

The Howard Stern Show

On Stern's show, Melendez conducted outrageous street interviews, with questions written by Howard Stern, Fred Norris, and Jackie Martling, premised on the idea that celebrities would not want to look bad by refusing an interview from a stutterer. He sported long hair and metal t-shirts and would often confront celebrities with puerile questions about their private lives. His interviews were characterized by punchline-free "joke" questions, such as asking actress Melanie Griffith how her father, Andy, was.

The absurdity of the questions Melendez asked were often amplified by the fact that Melendez himself appeared to lack common pop culture knowledge and often did not even seem to know who the subjects of his interview were or what they were famous for. Sometimes celebrities were a personal target of Stern's, such as Ted Williams, who was interviewed by Melendez because Stern disapproved the idea of athletes charging money for autographs. Oftentimes the celebrity would react angrily, but other times the celebrity would take the questions in good humor. Melendez notably interviewed Gennifer Flowers, Ringo Starr, and the Dalai Lama. He asked the Dalai Lama, if anyone ever greeted him with "Hello Dolly!", in a joking reference to the play and movie; the Dalai Lama's translator whispered the translation to the Dalai Lama, who chuckled. Another time Stuttering John interviewed Debbie Gibson losing an award to Wilson Phillips, to which she jokingly agreed with his idea that "the fat one would eat the statue". Stuttering John also provided comic interest with his misadventures, poor grammar and sloppy pronunciation.[5]

According to The New York Post, Melendez says Stern didn't pay him fairly and "resented me doing any outside work"; Stern replied saying that Melendez is a "no-talent ingrate" and he should stick to holding up the mug on The Tonight Show.[6]

National exposure

Melendez received national exposure when Stern's show began airing on national television. During his 15-year run as Stern's employee, Melendez also starred in the Off-Broadway show Tony n' Tina's Wedding where he met his wife, Suzanna. Melendez had bit parts in the movies Airheads, Meet Wally Sparks, Dude, Where's My Car?, and Howard Stern's movie Private Parts. He has also appeared on television on episodes of Wings, Baywatch Nights, and the 2003 U.S. version of the reality series I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!.[3]

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Following a guest appearance on The Tonight Show to promote I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! in 2003 John received an offer from Jay Leno to become a New York 'correspondent' who would ask celebrities questions on the red carpet, similar to one of his roles on the Stern show. John claimed on the show that he turned down the offer because he could not get a private conversation with Howard to ask him about it. Stern later claimed how "lame" an idea it was for Jay to reuse John the way he did (in a less edgy way). However, it was revealed during February 2004 in The New York Post that Melendez had been offered the announcer position (while the Stern's show was on vacation). It was a move that many perceived as a thinly veiled attempt to attract a younger demographic and nonsensical considering his "stuttering" moniker. The hiring of Melendez, which was carried out by Jay without Stern's knowledge, prompted a rift between Stern and Leno. Stern tiraded on his show for weeks on end, touting how Jay was "ripping him off", citing previously "lifted" material from his show such as "Jaywalking" ripping off Stern's "homeless game" for example stating "To an 18- to 25-year-old male, Jay Leno is gay. He might as well put a dress on."[7]

He accepted the offer, debuting on The Tonight Show on March 29, 2004.[8] On the show, he was identified as simply "John Melendez" (as opposed to "Stuttering John," which he was "not allowed" to be called). John held up a coffee mug on camera.[citation needed]

The Jay Leno Show

Melendez reunited with Leno and former Tonight bandleader Kevin Eubanks as a member of the writing staff on The Jay Leno Show.[9] Confirmation of his status on Leno's new prime time show came later than that of Eubanks, weeks after the end of Leno's tenure on The Tonight Show, which led to speculation that he would not appear at all. Melendez's ambiguous job status prompted a sarcastic job offer from his former boss Stern.[10]

When asked about Melendez's new role, Leno stated that Melendez would appear in comedy segments during the show and that the new show would not have a studio announcer. He described his interplay with Melendez on Tonight as "awkward," saying "I'd throw to Kevin Eubanks, and I'd throw to John, and I realized that my guy is Eubanks."[11] Melendez did not return as an announcer on the second incarnation of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and is now employed as a staff writer and occasional segment host.[citation needed]

Other work

In 2004, Melendez provided the voice of Bob the computer on Tripping the Rift.[12]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Stuttering John Biography. AOL Music. Retrieved on 2008-03-04.
  2. ^ Controversial personalities who stutter. Minnesota State University, 1998-10-12. Retrieved on 2008-03-02.
  3. ^ a b John Melendez. National Stuttering Association. Retrieved on 2008-03-02.
  4. ^ "Stern Spotlight: Stuttering John - Day 1. 04/14/08. 6:00am". marksfriggin.com. http://www.marksfriggin.com/news08/4-14.htm#mon. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  5. ^ "Just Asking: H-H-H-HERE'S JOHNNY!". Entertainment Weekly. 1993-07-16. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,307197,00.htm. Retrieved 16 July 2011. 
  6. ^ Stern stuttering mad at John. New York Post, 2008-03-03. Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
  7. ^ "Stern Rails Against Leno for Lifting 'Stuttering John'". Fox News. February 24, 2004. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,112306,00.html. 
  8. ^ The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: John Melendez as Announcer. NBC.com. Retrieved on 2008-03-02.
  9. ^ A new 'Leno' taking shape Variety. Retrieved on 2009-07-23.
  10. ^ Howard Stern: If Jay Leno Doesn't Hire 'Stuttering John' Melendez Back, I'll Rehire Him. The BlogTalkRadio Blog. Retrieved on 2009-06-08.
  11. ^ Jay Leno Q&A: 'The Jay Leno Show' Will Not Be Another 'Tonight Show'. Starpulse Entertainment News. Retrieved on 2009-09-07.
  12. ^ John Melendez. Voice Chasers. Retrieved on 2008-03-02.

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Media offices
Preceded by
Edd Hall
The Tonight Show announcer
2004–2009
Succeeded by
Andy Richter