Politely refusing an unwelcome telemarketer's tantalizing offers of Tube Sock Monthly subscriptions, volcano insurance, and beachfront time shares in North Dakota is not an option for comedian Jim Florentine. While earning his living headlining at comedy clubs throughout the country, the comic developed a pastime of torturing cold callers. Florentine says, "I got nothing going on during the day, so whenever the phone would ring, I would just try to waste their time and keep these telemarketers on the phone as long as I could."
Time wasted turned into cash gained when the comic recorded his antics onto a CD, called it Terrorizing Telemarketers, and sold copies after his standup shows to "get a few bucks for a couple of lap dances and a couple of beers." Aside from financing post-show entertainment, the success of his CDs also earned Florentine a spot on Comedy Central's Crank Yankers, a weekly half-hour program featuring actual crank phone calls reenacted by puppets. The New Jersey-born comic admits, "My strip club addiction got me on a TV show." Providing the voices of two of the show's most admired characters -- Bobby Fletcher and Special Ed -- has helped Florentine gain a much larger following. Among his newest fans: actor Billy Bob Thornton and the blond bad boy of hip-hop, Eminem, who first paid his respects by impersonating Special Ed in his 2003 MTV Movie Awards acceptance speech. The comic reveals, "You never think, when you are sitting there recording this stuff, that someone you dig is actually even going to hear it. These guys won Academy Awards. They shouldn't be laughing at this!"
Oscars are not a requirement this weekend when Florentine (a Cardinal Gibbons High School graduate) returns to South Florida, "where the chicks are always hot," bringing his "truthful and slightly edgy" brand of standup comedy. He hits the Palm Beach Improv at CityPlace (550 S. Rosemary Ave., Ste. 250, West Palm Beach) on Thursday, April 21, through Sunday, April 24. Tickets cost $15.97. Call 561-833-1812, or visit www.palmbeachimprov.com. -- Tim Hammill
McNevin's in Da House!
Singer-songwriter Michael McNevin has racked up quite a list of accomplishments. Not only has he opened for Johnny Cash and Shawn Colvin but he's made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame -- for his intricate drawing of a Little League game, created on an Etch-a-Sketch. When McNevin tours, he'll make a pit stop at the NBC studios to talk about his artwork, then go on to play gigs in clubs and private homes around the country. His songs land in the folk-pop genre, but it's his lyrics that really stand out. "Two Feet Ahead of the Train" reenacts a close call he had on the train tracks when he was 10 years old; "Bagger" describes his days working at the grocery store. Acoustic Guitar magazine called McNevin "a singer-songwriter of the highest order," and Tony Bennett sent him an e-mail that read, "Bagging groceries and an Etch-a-Sketch. Two of my historical accomplishments -- dig the tunes." McNevin performs for free at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at John L. Sullivan's (4460 N. Federal Hwy., Lighthouse Point) and for $15 at a house concert in Pembroke Pines at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Call 954-781-9669 for the Thursday show; 954-433-2372 to RSVP for Sunday. Visit www.michaelmcnevin.com. -- Deirdra Funcheon
Grumpy Old Men
Agnostic Front: Still angry after all these years
Some bands are like flowers; they bloom and disappear. Some bands are like trees; they take root, reach ever skyward, and cast a shadow over all who follow. And some bands are like hurled rocks; they bludgeon people over the head. Agnostic Front is like a rock. Since its days as a pioneer in the early-'80s New York hardcore scene, Agnostic Front has maintained a genuine "fuck you" attitude toward everything and everyone, everywhere. Still true to its vow to be "hardcore for life," the band continues to churn out a violent blend of proto-thrash punk-metal for its increasingly hearing-impaired fan base. Agnostic Front performs at the Factory (2674 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) on Thursday, April 21. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12 advance, $13 at the door. Call 954-564-ROCK. -- Jeff Megahan
Still Plugging Away
Since its formation in 1991, the ska/punk outfit Mustard Plug has had the distinction of being "one of Michigan's favorite bands." Which is a backhanded compliment it probably doesn't deserve -- sort of like being "one of Ted Danson's best movies." Truth be told, the ever-rotating roster of band members who constitute Mustard Plug can count themselves among some of the forefathers of ska in America. Having taken on a heavy ballast of poseurs during the great '90s commercial ska explosion, Mustard Plug has since dropped the deadbeat trendsetters and returned to a level of creative obscurity that keeps its blend of ska, pop, punk, and rock authentic. Catch its frantically energetic live performance at the Factory (2674 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) on Friday, April 22. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10. Call 954-564-ROCK, or visit www.slammie.com. -- Jeff Megahan