Thursday, July 18, 2024

Review: How Jackie Martling Escaped from the Howard Stern Show and Became a Dirtier, More Beloved Comic


I’m a little late getting to Jackie Martling’s documentary, “Joke Man,” but I’ll tell you, this is what we need in the middle of a gross, hot summer.

Jackie is known to millions from Howard Stern’s radio show. Ultimately, he left to be his own star, a designation he deserved, and eventually I think they made up. Kinda. But if you want to know what made Howard so outrageous in his heyday, the answer is Jackie Martling. Nothing was off limits. He was labeled a bit of a savant, hence the nickname “Joke Man.”

Jackie’s metier is bathroom jokes. His stories are filthy and he knows enough punch lines to set a room of drums ready for rim shots. The thing is, he’s so sweet in his own way (I hope he doesn’t mind that) that even the worst of them — worse than, for example, “the Aristocrats,” the dirtiest joke ever — that it’s all good. Martliny has developed a rep for serving up zingers delivered in apple sauce.

You’ll be surprised by some of Jackie’s friends who are interviewed in the film. One of his BFFs is Willie Nelson, of all people. There’s also actress Sean Young, billionaire Mark Cuban, and magician Penn Jillette. Also, another ex Stern comedian Artie Lange, is featured. He and Jackie compare notes about being ostracized from Stern’s world. There are several more cameos, too.

How many people love Jackie Martling? His ex wife very astutely provides her own story arc and observations about him. They are still in touch and she’s charming. Jackie’s on tour this summer and fall, and I swear, watching this doc — well directed by Ian Karr — will make you want to go to one of his shows.

“Joke Man” is available on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, and most streaming services.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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