Monday, May. 08, 2006

Howard Stern

Even though I didn't catch on to the Stern craze till the mid-'90s, I still consider myself a hard-core fan. I was wrapping up my run on Saturday Night Live and usually slept in every day, so I missed his show. But I knew he was a big deal. I had heard people repeating bits he did, and they always made me laugh. He came in one day to meet with Lorne Michaels, and everyone was freaking out. That was the first time I met him. Way taller than I thought (who isn't?) and quieter. And nice to everyone. Which still shocks me.

Stern, 52, was the first guy to make it seem cool to be a loser. To a lot of us who stay at home in a dark room eating Hot Pockets, he seemed like a buddy. He would make fun of good-looking famous people and make girls show their boobs. What's not to like about that? I was sold.

After 10 years, he can still make me laugh and get me jealous when he thinks of something so fast that I don't see it coming. He's at his best when he's complaining — the FCC, George W. Bush, whatever. Being a guest on his show, I get to hear the good and bad of my so-called life and career. Let me tell you, it's a lot easier having Katie Couric tell me I look cute (as she did one day) than volunteering to go in and have Howard dissect every loser aspect of me that I would rather keep hidden. If I didn't believe he thought I was funny, I'd never go on. He doesn't do a lot of "Your movie's great."

He does a lot of "You're not good-looking. Girls date you only because you're on TV. Most of your movies suck. You probably killed Chris Farley. You're jealous of Sandler. I have a caller who says he hates you and another who thinks you're gay." Not exactly James Lipton. But because he makes me laugh, it's a lot (a little) easier to take.

The other day, I was pulling into the parking garage at my gym, listening to Stern. I did what I usually do if Stern is on a roll: I parked right before going underground so it wouldn't cut out. I turned to my right, and some guy in a Subaru was parked next to me laughing. I rolled down the window and asked, "Stern?", and he nodded. Two more fans out of millions having another laugh with the King of All Media. Or at least the Subaru.

Spade is the host of The Showbiz Show on Comedy Central