John Edward Melendez was born on 4 October, 1965 in Massapequa, Long Island commonly known as “Stuttering John”. John Melendez is an American television/radio personality. Before his present job as announcer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, John Melendez was a regular on-air personality on The Howard Stern Show.
John Melendez attended Plainedge High School. John Melendez began to stutter when he was in the 2nd grade. According to John 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. During his youth he was often picked on by other children for being Puerto Rican and was called “Stutterface,” “Skip” and “M-C Stammer” (even though MC Hammer was not even around at the time of John Melendez’s youth).
In 1988, John Melendez attended New York University’s film school, and belonged to a band called “Rock Slide”. John Melendez’s college roommate, comedian Mitch Fatel, was on the verge of quitting his internship with The Howard Stern Show, when John Melendez asked him for a recommendation for an internship there. The show’s producer, Gary Dell’Abate, mentioned John Melendez’s stuttering to Howard Stern who, without seeing him and even before he was interviewed, told the producer to hire him.
On Howard Stern’s show, John Melendez conducted outrageous street interviews, premised on the idea that celebrities would not want to look bad by refusing an interview from a stutterer. John Melendez sported long hair and metal t-shirts and would often confront celebrities with puerile questions about their private lives. John Melendez’s interviews were characterised by punchline-free “joke” questions, such as asking Melanie Griffith “how her father, Andy, was.”
The absurdity of the questions John Melendez asked were often amplified by the fact that John Melendez himself lacked common pop-culture knowledge and often did not even know who the subjects of his interview were or what they were famous for. John Melendez notably interviewed Gennifer Flowers, Ringo Starr, and the Dalai Lama. John Melendez 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. John Melendez also provided comic interest with his misadventures, poor grammar and sloppy pronunciation.
According to the New York Post, John Melendez says Howard Stern didn’t pay him fairly and “resented me doing any outside work”; Howard Stern replied saying that John Melendez is a “no-talent ingrate” and he should stick to holding up the mug on “The Tonight Show”.
John Melendez received national exposure when Howard Stern’s show began airing on national television. During his 15-year run as Howard Stern’s sidekick/whipping boy, John Melendez also starred in the Off-Broadway show Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding where he met his wife, Suzanna. John Melendez had bit parts in the movies Airheads, Meet Wally Sparks, Dude, Where’s My Car?, and Howard Stern’s movie Private Parts. John Melendez has also appeared on television on episodes of Wings, Baywatch Nights, and the U.S. version of the reality series I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!.
John Melendez worked with a speech coach to overcome his stuttering and was offered the position of announcer for The Tonight Show. John Melendez accepted the offer, debuting The Tonight Show on 29 March, 2004. On this show, he is identified as “John Melendez” (as opposed to “Stuttering John Melendez,” a name he avoids).
On 30 November, 2007 NBC announced The Tonight Show crew including John Melendez were being laid off as a result of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike and that when the strike ended NBC could not guarantee that John Melendez and other staffers would be rehired.
John Melendez plays guitar and sings. John Melendez has released at least 2 hard rock CDs with humorous lyrics, 1 on Atlantic Records and 1 on Razor & Tie Records. In 2004, John Melendez provided the voice of Bob the computer on Tripping the Rift. John Melendez currently lives in the city of Calabasas, California with his wife, Suzanna Keller, and 3 children.
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