John Edward Melendez (born October 4, 1965), commonly known as "Stuttering John," is an American television writer and 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.
Melendez grew up in Massapequa, Long Island and attended Plainedge High School. 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 alcoholic father, 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.
The Howard Stern Show
On Stern's show, Melendez conducted outrageous street interviews, 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. 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 and a delayed chuckle came from the Dalai Lama. It seemed like he got the joke. Stuttering John also provided comic interest with his misadventures, poor grammar and sloppy pronunciation.
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."
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!.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Melendez worked with a speech coach to overcome his stuttering and was offered the position of announcer for The Tonight Show, replacing Edd Hall. He accepted the offer, debuting on The Tonight Show on March 29, 2004. On the show, he was identified as simply "John Melendez" (as opposed to "Stuttering John," which he avoids). John held up a coffee mug on camera.
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. 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.
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." 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.
Melendez plays guitar and sings. He has released at least two hard rock CDs with humorous lyrics, one on Atlantic Records and one on Razor & Tie Records. In 2004, Melendez provided the voice of Bob the computer on Tripping the Rift.
He currently lives in the city of Calabasas, California with his wife, Suzanna Keller, and three children.
- List of famous Puerto Ricans
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