A typical thirty-minute show contains about six prank phone calls, dialed by such hip comics as Denis Leary and Sarah Silverman. Puppets bring the victims' voices to life. Some bits are so twisted, they make the Farrelly brothers look like Merchant and Ivory.
Of the show's recurring characters, two of the most popular are creations of stand-up comic Jim Florentine, who appears at Stanford & Sons through Saturday. His repertoire includes Bobby Fletcher, a gastronomically challenged redneck who drinks suds from cans strapped to his hat, and Special Ed, who wears a helmet to temper his self-abuse. Ed's blithe shouts of "Yay!" disarm everyone in his path.
"I've had people come up to me in comedy clubs and say, 'Bobby Fletcher's burps, they're so offensive. But we love Special Ed!'" Florentine says. "Don't they realize that Special Ed makes fun of the handicapped? I guess everybody can be offended by something."
Comedy Central has received complaints from parent groups and, in one instance, a Spike TV executive, but Florentine is unfazed. "He's just a happy-go-lucky, excitable kid, so whatever." Florentine understands why some people are offended, but he just finds it funny. "I never believed in political correctness anyway," he says. "That's why I like black audiences. They laugh without thinking. 'Oh, do I laugh now? What are other people doing?' If it's funny, fucking laugh."
Florentine says that over eleven years of stand-up, he's done time in the comedy-circuit dregs. Now, fans come dressed as Special Ed. "The show reminds them of when they were kids, back to the fun time when we weren't concerned about lawyers, caller ID or star 69."