At this time of night, Shore’s only real competition in the scary-personality department is Jonathon Brandmeier, a popular Chicago disc jockey whose Johnny B On the Loose could not be more ironically titled: This half hour has been settling into rigor mortis from the moment it debuted in June and will soon be interred — a victim of poor ratings, Johnny B will leave the air in mid-September.
You can still tune in to see what went wrong, though. Like lots of radio crazies hamstrung by FCC regulations, Brandmeier arrived on television freshly self-censored. His idea of something really wild, really nuts, really over- the-edge is to hide a camera in a Chicago wedding-dress store and impersonate a fitter who says to nervous young brides-to-be, ”That dress looks terrible!”
Another time, Brandmeier sent one of his stooges out to the beach to — get this — shave the backs of hairy men. Oooh, that’s wild, Johnny B, just nuts, man.
Pauly Shore understands in a way that Brandmeier never will that the more you try to seem wacky and loose on television, the more desperate and sweaty you actually appear. A tanned iceberg in a cool medium, Shore rarely drops his slack-jawed, deadpan stare.
His favorite gimmick is to force himself on unsuspecting older Americans. Recently, for example, Shore bebopped his way into a Salt Lake City cable company. With a cameraman trotting along behind him, our hero convinced the company to give him a crash course in home cable installation. Shore shuffled along behind a nonplussed cable repairman, moaned about being tired, and muttered, ”Can I use the bathroom? I got a weird itch,” and all of a sudden, it struck me why he is at once so successful and yet so tedious: Pauly is just a Maynard G. Krebs for the ’90s, a cute, updated beatnik brat, always on the lookout for fresh nugs and a pad to crash in (or, as he puts it, ”a place to sponge”). Pauly Shore makes some of us proud to have been Dobie Gillises when we were growing up. D-