John Melendez, formerly known as “Stuttering John” (b. October 4, 1965 in New York City), is the announcer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He currently lives in the city of Calabasas, CA with his wife, Suzanna Keller, and three children.

Melendez was born to a Danish mother, and a stern Puerto Rican father who would occasionally have fits of rage. Melendez claims that he developed his chronic stutter and obsessive-compulsive disorder soon after witnessing a harsh argument between his parents.[1] He lived in Massapequa, Long Island and attended Plainedge High School, where he was taunted by the neighborhood bullies because of his stuttering. Eventually, he befriended those bullies and got into trouble himself.

In 1988, Melendez attended New York University’s film school, and belonged to a band called “Rock Slide”. His college roommate was on the verge of quitting his internship with The Howard Stern Show, when Melendez begged him for a recommendation for an internship there. The show’s producer, Gary Dell’Abate, mentioned Melendez’s stuttering problem to Howard Stern, who decided to see him perform and eventually, to hire him.

On Stern’s show, Melendez would conduct outrageous street interviews, premised on the idea that celebrities would not want to look bad by refusing an interview from a stutterer. Melendez also would appear at press conferences and ask off-the-wall questions to Gennifer Flowers, Ringo Starr, and the Dalai Lama. He also provided comic interest with his misadventures, poor grammar and sloppy pronunciation. For example, the name “Nicolas Cage” becomes “Niggaless Cage” and “Suzanna” (his wife’s first name) becomes “Suzanner” when spoken by Melendez.

He received national exposure when Stern’s show began airing on national television. During his 15-year run as Stern’s sidekick/whipping boy, Melendez also starred in the Off-Broadway show Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding where he met his wife, Suzanna.

He had bit parts in the movies Airheads, Meet Wally Sparks, Dude, Where’s My Car?, and Howard Stern’s movie Private Parts.

He has appeared on television on episodes of Wings, Baywatch Nights, and the U.S. version of the reality series I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!.

Melendez plays guitar and sings. He has released at least two CDs of hard rock with humorous lyrics, one on Atlantic Records and one on Razor & Tie Records.

With time, celebrities became much more willing to appear on The Howard Stern Show and put up with Stern’s barbs, which reduced the need for Melendez’s services. Melendez started doing fewer of the street interviews which made him famous, and started spending more time with his wife Suzanna and daughter Greta.

Melendez worked with a speech coach to overcome his stuttering problem and was offered the position of announcer for The Tonight Show. He accepted the offer, making his Tonight Show debut on March 29, 2004. On this show, he is identified simply as “John Melendez” (as opposed to “Stuttering John Melendez”). Stern has consistently claimed the move was an attempt by Jay Leno to steal ideas from Howard’s show. Many late night talk show bits are said to have been stolen from the Stern show, including Jay Leno’s bit “Jaywalking”.

In 2004, Melendez provided the voice of Bob the computer on Tripping the Rift.

Edited by Gutol on 8 Jun 2007, 12:43

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