Wednesday, December 01, 1999

Not everyone will laugh at Newport comic's video




BY JOHN KIESEWETTER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It wasn't the best Newport joke ever told, but certainly the longest.

        Comedian Jeff Wayne's film about his hometown, made as a TV series pilot for Comedy Central, runs 30 minutes on his new home video.

        “Let me describe Newport, Ky., for you: In 1974, there was one tornado, six blocks of devastation and $25 worth of damage,” he jokes.

        “Yuppies say you should be bilingual. I'm from Kentucky. I'm not even lingual.”

        But the joke was on Jeff Wayne Rollinger, a 1974 Newport High School graduate. Comedy Central rejected his pilot for My Hometown, just released on his home video, Rejected! Turned Down! Ignored! And #*$/@ On! ($19.95 at Blockbuster, Best Buy or Amazon.com).

        “Comedy Central hated it,” he said. “They thought I was making this stuff up. They were very offended by it.”

        Newport leaders may be displeased, too. My Hometown painted a pretty bleak picture of Newport.

        Mr. Wayne spent several days in 1997 and '98 visiting topless bars, The Thing Shop lingerie store, Dixie Chili and Elvis impersonator Steve Chuke at Jewel King Jewelers.

        He talked to lots of guys (some actually wore shirts) in Newport. One was swigging vodka minutes after walking out of the plasma donation center and headed to a gun shop; another explained how he urinated into his truck's brake line after losing brake fluid.

        “I thought I just showed Newport for what it was. I grew up here. It's been 30 years like this,” said Mr. Wayne, who brought his one-man Big Daddy's Barbecue show to the Aronoff Center in 1997.

        In Hometown, he chatted with a Newport stripper and filmed countless carryouts and churches.

        “There are as many churches in Newport as there are chili joints, liquor stores and (topless) bars. We go to church and pray for more chili joints, liquor stores and (topless) bars.”

        Rejected! also includes Mr. Wayne's music videos for his It's OK To Be A White Male and The Jeff Comedy Jam CDs that MTV and TNN refused to play.

        It has a six-minute audition tape of his stand-up act — politically incorrect one-liners about the homeless and gays — which was rejected by a late-night network show (he won't say which one) for being “too opinionated.”

        Other bits on the tape — a spoof of The Three Stooges in Spanish, a visit to a cemetery — are weak fillers to pad out the tape to an hour. “I'm disappointed we had to put other stuff on it,” he admitted.

        Mr. Wayne, who had dreamed of a Big Daddy's Barbecue on Broadway two years ago, said the show could be staged in Chicago this spring. By that time, he may be co-hosting a national radio show with Susan Olsen (Cindy Brady from The Brady Bunch).

        “I'm very excited. I've got some things happening. This tape isn't a career maker or breaker, but it's fun,” said the comic during a holiday visit home.

        Again he cruised his hometown. He wasn't laughing this time. He was not impressed with Newport's new 12-foot high Millennium World Peace Bell or $80 million aquarium.

        “How will a giant bell help Newport? What's an aquarium going to do? Most people here can't afford to go to the aquarium.”

        He'd rather see funds spent on computer literacy and job training.

        “It's sad what has happened to my hometown,” he said.

       



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