I am a lifelong Howard Stern fan. When I say lifelong, I mean LIFE long ! I am 51 years old, and I remember sneaking DC101 on in the mornings before elementary school so I could listen to Howard.
Because I have been a fan for so long, I have had the privilege of listening to all the little slices of humanity that interest Howard. Howard has myriad talents, but one of the ones I admire the most is his ability to find interesting people whose lives are so different than the norm that they are endlessly interesting. In that vein, I have loved Kenneth Keith, the original and the new Bigfoot, High Pitch Eric, ETM, Wendy the Slow Adult, Riley Martin, Crackhead Bob, Fred the Elephant Boy, Beetlejuice, Jeff the Bore, and so, so many others that Howard cracks open like oysters so that we can all enjoy the comedy pearls.
But, for me there is one guest who stands out head and shoulders above the others: Mark Harris.
What made Mark Harris so interesting to me is that he is a real life Willy Loman and Jay Gatsby ( yeah, I teach English), rolled into one. Mark hit Howard’s radar by marrying Martha Raye, a maneuver that the clearly gay Harris utilized to try to advance his “career”. Mark saw his marriage as an opportunity to treat the world to what he felt were his massive talents.
The only problem was- he HAD no talents. Time after time, Mark would write miserable songs ( with the help of Leo DeLion, of course) that contained rhymes any third grader could have written. He would come in sure that Howard was going to rejoice in his music , only to be surprised each and every time Howard mercilessly panned his crappy songs .
But, as Howard said, Harris always refused to look at his lack of any kind of success as failure. He would dream up projects such as his ill- fated cooking show “Tasty Travels” . Mark somehow didn’t understand that nobody wanted his advice about cooking because he was a nobody. Somebody like Gordon Ramsay could pull off that kind of show because the idea of having a world famous chef helping everyday people improve their cooking is interesting. But, Mark had no credentials- he just thought since he had this flamboyant and irritating personality, people would for some reason look at him as an expert.
On one Stern show, Howard spent about twenty minutes detailing Mark’s failed projects. But, since Mark always thought the Stern show was going to give him his big break, he endured the insults and went on to introduce the Stern audience to his appalling “Toony Tunes” which were incredibly awful cell phone rings in which Harris musically and horrendously lampooned the British Royal Family.
What makes Harris so interesting to me is that there was nothing overtly wrong with him. He was a narcissist who chewed up and spit out his wife, of course, but he wasn’t an alcoholic, or mentally handicapped, or besieged with a speech impediment, or anything like that. He was just an overly ambitious man with no talent who always thought he was just on the cusp of being big.
Although Mark was not a very good person, he was an incredible guest. I listen to the various marathons of him on youtube all the time. They are a enlightening look at a bizarre personality type that Howard was able to put on display wit his sublime talents.