Just a Dude from Jersey: An Interview with Comedian Jim Florentine
By Dan Lorenzo
Thanks to Steppin’ Out magazine, Jim Florentine reached out to me many years ago after reading my column. Jim has accomplished amazing things since then. He has appeared on The Howard Stern Show, Jimmy Kimmel, MTV, Monday Night Football and That Metal Show to name a few. Fame hasn’t changed Jim at all. He’s still, “Just a dude from Jersey with a bunch of dirty jokes who knows a little bit about heavy metal and can make crank calls. “I just got lucky in my career”. Jim’s book Everybody Is Awful (Except You) is a must read as is his comedy special I Got the House, which is partially about his wife cheating on him and the results of the divorce that followed.
When you first found out your wife was cheating, did you ever think something so positive will come out of it?
(laughs) No, you don’t think that. You know when you go through some shit in your life that there’s always going to be light at the end of the tunnel, but when it first happens you can’t see that.
How hard was it for you to go onstage after that to try and be funny?
It was tough because I always like working on new material, and I had just had filmed a new comedy special so I was working on a whole new set before it got released and then that shit went down and I had all these road gigs. I was out of my mind. I couldn’t think of anything. I had complete writer’s block. I wasn’t focused on new material so I had to go through my old stand-up from the past five or six years and just pick out the “greatest hits” so I could get through those gigs until I had a breakthrough and I started writing again.
Stand-up comedians travel a lot. I imagine a lot of times it’s just you out on the road- do you ever get lonely or are you too busy to get lonely?
Yeah, I mean you do because sometimes you’re just holed up in a hotel room for three or four days and sometimes you don’t have a car. It can get lonely, but it’s all about the show that night.
I picture you as a guy who can never relax.
No, I can do that definitely. I think you need one day a week to just do nothing. I don’t feel guilty about not working. As a comic you do for a long time, you think, “Man, if I’m not onstage five or six nights a week people are passing me by”, but you have to get over that mentality. As long as you’re funny, you’re funny. You have to have some kind of life.
Your book is hysterical. Did it offend any of your friends or family? I’m assuming you have family or friends who do some of the annoying things you described on Facebook.
I didn’t hear that from them. They all seemed to enjoy it. They all know how I am. They know what annoys me. I’m sure other people who read it thought, “What is this? Why is he so negative?” That’s what a comic does! We pick out shit that bothers people that most people can relate to.
If you hurt somebody does that bother you? Do you feel guilty?
I feel bad, but I won’t feel guilty and dwell on it. Anything can set somebody off. You don’t know. I could be talking about my divorce and somebody in the audience could be going through a really nasty divorce at that time. I’ve got that. A guy has said, “Oh man you reminded me of that. I just wanted a few laughs and you’re bringing up divorce.” I’ll tell him, “Well how would I know you’re going through a divorce? I can’t take a survey from the crowd every night.
I just listened to your podcast. You sound so angry, but I think of you as a happy person. You have a great life, right?
Absolutely, but look… people send me stuff that they know will annoy me so I can muster up the rage when I see something stupid on Facebook or Instagram. People taking pictures of their food and people writing, “Mmmm” underneath.
What was the best moment of your career?
I would say going on Howard Stern with him having me come in and sit in. That basically launched my career. He liked my prank calls. I got everything pretty much from doing that show.
I Got the House is on Amazon Prime, iTunes and other popular outlets.