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Much of the Howard Stern Show magic comes from the interaction between the Stern staff and a revolving cast of characters called the Whack Pack. Stern admits that it’s not clear what makes a whack packer, and even regular callers and guests aren’t guaranteed membership.
Most whack packers are disabled – physically, mentally and/or emotionally. Each has earned his or her place in Stern’s court by repeatedly demonstrating a willingness to bend to the whims of the show. With the exception of Robin Quivers, staff members are expected to do the same. There have been many staffers, whack packers, and guests through the years. Here’s an abbreviated list of some audience favorites.
What’s her deal: Howard’s sidekick, and the closest thing to a voice of reason. Gets her own booth, glassed off from the unwashed horde.What’s her schtick: Giggles nonstop, endures endless teasing about her large breasts and the molestation she suffered as a child. Reads the news at the end of each show.
Fred (a.k.a. Eric) Norris
What’s his deal: Writer and sound effectsguy. With Stern from the beginning.What’s his schtick: Generally regarded as weird. Changed his name to “Eric” without telling anyone. Seems to harbor resentment towards Stern. Mostly quiet, but can be hilariously vicious to guests he doesn’t like or staffers with whom he’s angry.
Gary Dell’Abate a.k.a. Baba Booey
What’s his deal: Stern show producer. Earned his nickname after mispronouncing the name of cartoon character “Baba Louie.”What’s his schtick: Endures endless teasing about his large teeth and lips. Ordered to wear a beekeeper outfit whenever his job requires that he stand next to a beautiful naked (or mostly naked) woman. Often the target of Stern’s angry rants.
What’s his deal: Actor/comedian. Replaced Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling as comedy writer in 2001. Drug addiction led to his dismissal from “Mad TV” years earlier. The resulting stories are a constant source of humor.What’s his schtick: Endures endless teasing about his food and alcohol abuse. Does dead-on impressions of Stern-show regulars, including Jeff the Drunk, Maryanne from Brooklyn and redneck racist Daniel Carver.
What’s his deal: Former pre-show interviewer turned writer.What’s his schtick: Endures endless teasing about his weight, hygiene and inability to get women. Will behave or submit to most any humiliation for either money or attention. Once kissed High Pitch Eric.
What’s his deal: Beat out nine other contestants to win “Get John’s Job” after Stuttering John left the show in 2004. Quit a fairly successful metal band and moved from Florida for what was originally a short-term gig.What’s his schtick: Edits show audio to create hilarious crank phone calls and songs. Endures endless teasing about his Southern accent, love of Internet porn and increasing habit of getting naked in the studio.
Sal the Stockbroker
What’s his deal: A regular caller who recently parleyed his Stern obsession into a paying gig.What’s his schtick: Relentless harassment of Gary Dell’Abate, dubbed him “horse tooth jackass,” and created a Web site of the same name (prior to show employment). Endures endless teasing about his obsessive interest in Stern.
Ronnie the Limo Driver
What’s his deal: Stern’s limo driver.What’s his shtick: Parlayed his spots into a regular gig at Scores strip club in Manhattan. Endures endless teasing about his love of Nascar and the time he went to great expense to pimp-out his new limo which Stern then refused to ride in.
What’s his deal: Regular caller, very confrontational. Often angry.What’s his schtick: Challenged K-Rock DJ Crazy Cabbie to a boxing match. The fight lasted five rounds and ended in a draw, resulting in much contention and on air arguments between the two.
What’s his deal: Arguably the most beloved Whack Packer, Beetlejuice is a mentally handicapped microcephalic dwarf. His nom de plume is derived from his disproportionately small head and a scene in the movie “Beetlejuice” in which the title character’s head is shrunken.What’s his schtick Tough talk and an impaired mental capacity that makes him easily led in conversation. Frequently boasts about women, money and fighting ability. Stern appearances led to regular public appearances and occasional movie bit parts. “This is Beetle,” a song he improvised on the show and set to music by Richard Christy was later recorded by both Staind and Blues Traveler.
What’s his deal: Regular caller, unemployed.What’s his schtick: Spends the day recording television segments and playing them when he calls. Endures endless teasing from both the Stern crew and King of All Blacks for “talking white,” being unemployed and generally uncool.
What’s his deal: Not necessarily a whack-packer, but the most successful Stern crank caller.What’s his schtick Penetrated some of the biggest broadcast media outlets in the United States, not to mention the Jerry Lewis telethon, leading unsuspecting journalists into a fake conversation before hollering “Baba Booey” or some other Stern shout out.
What’s his deal: Formerly known as Lispy Lynn, born with a cleft palate that was never corrected.What’s his schtick: Endures endless teasing for his speech impediment which makes him almost impossible to understand.
What’s his deal: Hardcore fan known for being the first in line at Stern’s book signing for “Miss America.” Suffered a stroke resulting from crack abuse. Has severe speech impediment.What’s his stick: Endures endless teasing about his speech impediment, drug abuse and miserable life. Quit appearing in 2001 for personal reasons, but returned in 2005.
What’s his deal: Redneck racist and alleged Kleagle in the Ku Klux Klan.What’s his schtick: Serious about his hatred, but takes the endless teasing and ridicule from Stern crew in stride. Catch phrase: “Wake up white people!”Former Stern-show movie critic, used burning crosses as his ratings system.
Dan the Farter
What’s his deal: Regular guest with the gift of on-command flatulence.What’s his schtick: Able to pass gas for extended periods of time, though the act sometimes results in incontinence.
What’s his deal: Regular caller with severe speech impediment.What’s his schtick: Endures endless teasing about his voice, poor hygiene and admitted homosexual experience.
Elegant Elliott Offen
What’s his deal: A narcissistic old cross-dresser given to angry outbursts, biographical hyperbole and adjective abuse.What’s his schtick: Claims to run 20 miles a day (in ladies underwear). Counters questions about his often-outrageous claims by shouting long strings of alliterated insults.
Eric the Midget
What’s his deal: Regular caller, leaves expletive-filled messages in his bizarre little-boy voice, viciously chastising Stern for his disrespect of female singers.What’s his schtick: Angrily endures endless teasing about his small stature and obsession with female “American Idol” contestants. Repeatedly demands that Stern get him a date with Kelly Clarkson. Victim of crank calls in which High Pitch Eric impersonates Kelly Clarkson, much to Eric the Midget’s rage.
Gary the Retard
What’s his deal: Frequent caller, mentally handicapped with severe speech impediment.What’s his schtick: Endures endless teasing about his mental capacity and toothless grin. Always upbeat and often the victim of crank calls from the Stern crew.
High Pitch Eric
What’s his deal: Frequent caller with freakishly-falsetto voice that he emphasizes for effect.What’s his schtick: Endures endless teasing abouthis voice, obesity,unemployment, fish phobia and inability to perform in porno films he has parlayed through his show appearances.
Jeff the Drunk
What’s his deal: Regular caller, mean drunk.What’s his schtick: Endures endless teasing about his poor hygiene, slurred speech, hacking cough and expletive-filled catch phrases which Artie can imitate perfectly.
John the Stutterer
What’s his deal: Not to be confused with former staffer Stuttering John, John the Stutter is a regular caller-turned-guest. Unlike Stuttering John, he has yet to overcome speech impediment.
What’s his schtick: Endures endless teasing about his stutter, specifically from Fred who mocks John when he attempts to speak.
King of All Blacks
What’s his deal: Regular caller and garbage man.What’s his schtick: Good natured and outspoken. Once conducted a game in which the Stern crew attempted to identify different races by examining their garbage.
What’s her deal: “World’s Largest Female Body Builder.” Very sweet personality. Looks and speaks like a man.What’s her schtick: Endures endless teasing about her suspect gender. Agreed to have her private parts examined by Robin and have a DNA test to prove that she’s 100-percent female. (She is). Fred ridicules her deep voice by speaking like Herman Munster.
Maryanne from Brooklyn
What’s her deal: Aregular caller who speaks with a New York accent in a voice so shrill it makes car alarms sound like Gershwin. Fred cues the crow sound effects every time she’s on the phone.What’s her schtick: Showers Stern with maternal praise, besmirches his foes, serenades him with, “all I need is Howard in my life.”
Wendy the Retard
What’s her deal: Regular caller, mentally handicapped.What’s her schtick: Generally good-natured, but has been known to fight with Gary the Retard. She and her family went up against Daniel Carver’s clan in “Whack Pack Family Feud” and lost.
Yucko the Clown
What’s his deal: Insult comic who dresses like a clown.What’s his schtick: Spits filthy insults in a goofy clown voice, honks his red nose for emphasis. Accused of being a child molester by John the Stutterer. Once compared Richard Christy’s face to a canned ham.
Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling
What’s his deal: Replaced by Artie Lange in 2001 after failed contract negotiations.What’s his schtick: Endured teasing for his squeaky voice, slum properties and regular spots on Hollywood Squares. Generally agreed by Stern crew that Jackie was too needy.
Stuttering John Melendez
What’s his deal: Left the show in 2004 for announcer position on “Jay Leno.”What’s his schtick: Answered phones, screened calls, and hijacked celebrities with offensive interviews.
What’s his deal: Former associate producer/assistant to Gary. Left the show in 2004.What’s his schtick: Endured endless teasing about his bodybuilding, suspect sexuality, lacking education and his cowardice for fleeing both the studio and Manhattan on 9/11.
What’s his deal: Hilarious voice artist who left the show after failed contract negotiations in 1995.What’s his schtick: Dead-on impressions included Jay Leno, Larry Fine, Marge Schott, and Jackie “The JokeMan” Martling. Also the voice behind cartoon characters “Ren & Stimpy.”
Hank the Angry, Drunken Dwarf (Henry Nasiff)
What’s his deal: Whack packer who passed away on September 4, 2001 from complications associated with alcoholism.What’s his schtick: Drunk and angry. Great with the insults. Processed an encyclopedic knowledge of rock music. Regularly fought with Beetlejuice for usurping his popularity on the show. Was offered money for a haircut by Courtney Love after he approached her in the hallway and told her she looked “just like Courtney Love.”