When I was a little girl, I used to wonder about stuttering. Usually, it popped up when I was lying or being an ass, like the time I stole my mom's boyfriend's Playboy with Bo Derek on the cover. "I, I, I ..." and so on got me grounded, ostensibly so that I could steal said boyfriend's cigarettes and smoke them in the closet. In the closet, I said.
But never, ever, did I contemplate exploiting this affectation for the big celebrity interview. No, I use drugs for that. Stuttering John, however, has become a master of the tripped tongue, stumbling all hairy and drunk onto unwitting red carpets the world over for a chance to make moneyed people uncomfortable. I guess I should like him. But I don't. He's on the pink phone to answer for his touring show that recently came to town, and, frankly, I don't get it.
"I've always wanted to do it. I've been writing for a long time," he warns. "I've just never got the balls up to go and do it, and then I said, 'Listen, I have balls to go up to people and ask them crazy questions. How can I not have balls to go up on stage?' I did it, loved it, and now I want to do it all the time."
Genius. But nobody cares about his show. They just come out to stare at the man who should never be there: The man who stutters. It's fun to watch people flounder, after all, and even more fun when they're ugly. But how is it that Mr. Stutter has been able to gain Kraft Services tent access to the celebrity elite?
"It takes a long time for them to get on to you," he gets on to me. "It took them about 10 years. But, then you just go in disguises and try different ways to get in. You get creative with it. Y'know, still to this day, I can still manage to sneak into stuff."
"But don't you ever feel bad?" I conjure a conscience.
"Not all the time. There are a few instances when I feel a little upset about it. Like when I asked Liz Smith why she's such a fat cow," he elicits a giggle. "Stuff like that, y'know, I wasn't happy about. Because I'm not an inherently mean person. ... But for the most part, it's all in fun. ... Celebrities, a lot of times, put themselves on such a high pedestal. It's a good way to bring them down to size for a short period of time."
Oh, a size queen. "But you're kind of a jerk."
"It's a funny bit. It's always making me laugh when "SNL" can do a spoof on somebody, on a celebrity, like ad nauseam for 15 minutes," he throws up. "Then I'll ask a question, and I'm a bad guy."
"But you do it to their face." Note to self: Never do it in their face.
"Yeah, but ... they're goofing on them in front of a million people," he counts his toes. "Listen, it's all relative, I understand. I just (stutter, stutter), I mean, I asked Ted Williams if he ever farted in the catcher's face. It's so harmless. They get so upset, it's just ridiculous."
Farts are always funny. But you asked Ally Sheedy about her vomiting whilst she was dealing with her bulimia bliss.
"Y'know what, I asked her if she puked today (stutter, stutter)," he stutters. "I, I, I think it's all fun. I know that some celebrities don't take it that well, but that's part of the fun, too."
Fun. So, are you sleeping with Howard Stern? I mean, does he still like you?
"He's seen the show. He gave me compliments on the air about it. He knows it's a good show, it's a quality show, and he's never said anything bad about it. I love being on stage. I'm certainly a ham."
Certainly, but the only reason you have an audience is because you fart in Howard Stern's face.
"Obviously, the main, core audience is going to be Howard Stern fans," he backpedals. "That's how they know me. I mean, Howard's so huge and has such high ratings, everybody's going to know us for that."
Try this: You're not funny. You stutter. And you're ugly.
"I don't really care. You can ask me anything and never offend me," he offends me.
"Have you masturbated today?"
"Yeah," he confirms the obvious. "Like I asked Raquel Welch, 'Are they drooping yet?' And she punched me in the nose. I don't get it ... because her eyes look beautiful."
"I remember I was gonna sue her, and I was on the phone with Andrew Dice Clay and told him. Andrew was like, 'John. What're you gonna do, tell the whole world that you got your ass kicked by a chick?' So, I didn't sue."
I always call up Dice for advice, too. Really.
"Some celebrities take it well," he gives it poorly. "Joan Rivers gave me the best response. I said, 'Joan, do you think retarded people should be able to have children?' And she said, 'No, and I told your parents that.'"
She's a funny lady, huh? Anyway, what gives with the hack phone call on the big Columbia day wherein somebody called three networks claiming that Howard Stern shot it down because he thought Jackie Marley was on the shuttle ... or something? I smell good taste.
"Um," he stutters. "It wasn't anyone who worked on the Stern show. Y, y, you can't control people from doing that kind of stuff."
Y, y, you're right.