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You've gotta laugh

Comic Jim Florentine makes a compelling case for society's need for a good fart joke.

Florentine, the creator of the mentally impaired teenager "Special Ed" on Comedy Central's prank call show Crank Yankers, knows he won't be waxing poetic with Charlie Rose about this theory anytime soon, but notes "there's a certain market for everything."

He has a hard time understanding why the FCC fined Howard Stern for playing gassy sound effects that were too long and too detailed, he says. "It isn't going to corrupt a kid forever. What kid wouldn't be laughing at that?"

The success of Borat only proves his point, that people like moronic and even cruel comedy when done right.

"It's an escape," Florentine said. "We have to sit in an office from 9 to 5 and you can't say anything that's a little edgy or out there because we have bills to pay and a mortgage. So you come home and this is my release, a good laugh."

Florentine, who will do his standup in four shows Friday and Saturday at Pinellas Park's My Big Fat Greek Comedy Club, just finished shooting a pilot for Comedy Central called Meet the Creeps. It's a hidden-camera show that was a hit on the network's Internet site that, like Borat, does its best to get its heroes thrown out of restaurants or on the run from cops by the time the bit is over.

He shrugs off thinking too hard about making fun of people such as the mentally handicapped.

"People have said they were offended, but what are you going to do?"

Jim Florentine appears at 8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday at My Big Fat Greek Comedy Club, 4300 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park, (727) 541-6356. Tickets are $17.50 in advance, $20 at the door.