John Melendez has one of the most interesting careers in show business. During his 15 years as “Stuttering John,” a punchline on Howard Stern’s radio show, he was the cast member you loved to hate, not for the stuttering but for the way he managed to piss off everyone around him.
Still, you couldn’t help but admire the way the kid grew up and emerged as his own person in the later years, a husband and a father, smarter than you thought, savvier, contributing more than just a disability and an intuitive sense of how to make celebrities ill at ease when he attempted to interview them.
Fast forward to March 2004 and almost overnight, the world of John Melendez changed. Jay Leno shocked everyone—Howard Stern most of all—by hiring Melendez to be his announcer on “The Tonight Show.”
You had to wonder: “Stuttering John” as the voice of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”? Really?
But it all worked out. Fans missed Melendez on the Stern show—and so, too, did Stern—but he earned the respect he’d never get on the air from Stern, by striking out on his own. He’s even launched his own online TV show at johnmelendez.tv.
Now, as Leno prepares to transition from “The Tonight Show” to a new, five-night-a-week program on NBC at 10 p.m., everyone wants to know: is Melendez going with him?
Let’s find out.