The Baba Boodyssey
Howard Stern Show’s
Dell’Abate joins the ranks of Stern Show authors
would have no idea from listening to or being a fan of the Howard Stern
Show, but producer and frequent comedy target Gary Dell’Abate has
endured tragedy and built fortitude, as he recounts in “They Call Me Baba Booey,” published Nov. 3.
Dell’Abate lost a brother to AIDS and grew up with a mentally ill mother
who would fly into unprovoked or barely provoked rages.
But where the fortitude comes in is when Dell’Abate recalls just how
driven he was to have a career in radio, working hard at several
overlapping internships in the industry while attending college on Long
Island. At one, he doggedly pursued former Yankee catcher Rick Cerrone
at the height of his early 1980s fame for a radio interview. In another
sports-show oriented gig, Dell’Abate recalls the tricky task of
corralling hockey players for post-game interviews, most notably when he
needed to get Wayne Gretzky to talk to a host whom “The Great One”
What Dell’Abate learned from these trials by fire … could be how to
stand up to Stern’s ridicule, or at least not let it get to him. There’s
a frequent refrain in the stories Dell’Abate tells that “it’s all for
the show” when he takes heat for some misstep – such as when the show
unearths an embarrassing videotaped speech Dell’Abate made to try to win
back an ex-girlfriend.
Despite all these personal sturm und drang stories, “They Call Me Baba
Booey” is fun -- don’t get that wrong. The aforementioned videotape
story is certainly cringe comedy, as are Dell’Abate’s dental disasters,
also gleefully mined by Howard for the show.
You might not believe it, but there are unexpected moments of tenderness
here, especially Howard’s support for his producer when his brother was
dying; and the show’s crew of Howard, Robin, Fred and Jackie celebrating
“They Call Me Baba Booey” is certainly a must-have for Stern fans, but
does stand up on its own for other audiences, like pop culture addicts
or music trivia and sports fans.
Footnote: This reviewer, a once-rabid Stern fan, went to a Dell’Abate
appearance around 1990 and said (fawningly) “I watch your [old Channel 9
TV] show every Saturday night,” to which Dell’Abate said, “You should be
out getting laid on Saturday night.” A fun little anecdote for your
amusement. And I meant that I taped it. ;)