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-