Though Jackie Martling, a.k.a. "The Joke Man," may be best known as the head writer for The Howard Stern Show, when the weekends come, he works his way across the country doing his own standup act. His gimmick: nonstop dirty jokes. No heartwarming stories of his childhood. No clever word play with pithy nuances. No witty observations of life in our times. Just filthy-dirty-disgusting jokes, and lots of them. He's like an X-rated Henny Youngman.
After a not-very-successful career as a singer-songwriter-guitarist, Martling started life anew as a slinger of dirty jokes. "I quit music, and I was the only one who knew I quit," he recalled recently, by phone from the Stern show's New York studio. So the between-song comments and jokes became his whole show. Why the constant barrage of smutty material? "Dirty jokes get the biggest laughs, and I'm up there to make people laugh."
Martling's a wizard at self-promotion. Along with his daily appearance on Stern's national radio show (heard locally at 6 a.m. on the Edge 106.3 and 100.3 FM), he runs a wildly successful catalogue company. His Web site (www.jokeland.com) and 800 line (1-800-323-5464) peddle dirty jokes in every form imaginable: comedy CDs, videos, cassettes and CD-ROMs, tee shirts and books. His most recent literary effort bears the understated title Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling's Disgustingly Dirty Joke Book (Simon & Schuster). He claims his Web site averages 200,000 hits a month. "Jokeland" is one of the most elaborate sites out there--pages and pages of inappropriate humor and tons of photos, sounds and all the cyber bells and whistles available.
About half of Martling's 18-and-older show on Saturday, May 16, at the Celebrity Theatre will consist of a rousing round of "Stump the Joke Man," in which everyone in the place gets a chance to run a joke by Martling in the hopes of beating him to the punch line. The whole crowd gets involved in shouting down the lame-o would-be comics. The prize, should you successfully stymie the raunchmeister? You get some souvenir swag like tee shirts, CDs and so forth--in Martling's words, "Some Jokeland crap."
Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 16, at the Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Tickets are $19 and $22. 267-1600 (Celeb), 503-5555 (Dillard's).