Jenny McCarthy and I: an all-too-personal history

By Christian Carvajal on January 23, 2015

Jenny McCarthy and I go way back.

Before I get started, let me admit this is one of those Hollywood yarns in which I know a great deal about a given celebrity, who in turn remembers squat-point-nothing about me. That's the thing about all my celebrity stories: they were the most famous people I met that day, while I was the least important person they met all year. I gain no value from the name-dropping, other than semi-entertaining stories about years in the trenches. I'm still me, a nonentity, so who am I to make fun of anyone who's achieved what I could not? Fair enough. I agree with those points. Still...

When I was an undergrad in 1993, a friend bought me a year's subscription to Playboy. (Subscribing to Playboy was a thing college dudes did back then.) The Playmate of the Year was Jenny McCarthy, so I got to know her quite well. As David Mamet once wrote, I could draw her from memory. Then MTV gave her a dating show, Singled Out, and I thought, good for her! She's actually spinning a career from her year between the staples. I finished grad school, moved back to L.A., and started work as a background extra in movies and TV. In the meantime, McCarthy earned an MTV sketch show, which then netted her a sitcom, Jenny, on NBC.

I got booked for a day's work on Jenny. Upon arrival, I learned they wanted me as more of a day-player actor. That almost never happens, so I remember it fondly. Also memorable was the fact that they expected me to play an acting coach, the kind who emphasizes animal traits via body movements. I chose to evoke a silverback gorilla, partly because I'm a stout guy but mostly because I thought it'd be funny. It was. McCarthy spent the morning prowling the set and announcing, "Vagina!" After about two dozen such pronouncements, she approached to learn her blocking. She watched me a few minutes, then came over and said hi. "You're a really good actor," she told me. It was one of the nicest things anyone said to me in the entertainment business-which, I grant you, sets the bar low. In any case, the show was canceled two weeks later so, to the best of my knowledge, the episode never aired.

I then booked two weeks on BASEketball, the Trey Parker/Matt Stone vehicle in which McCarthy played a trophy widow. I watched her work (having nothing better to do on one of the dreariest on-set experiences of my life) and thought, hey, look at this woman. She might actually stick it out. The movie was quickly relegated to Blockbuster bargain bins, but Jenny McCarthy was not. Long after I threw in the towel and moved to Oklahoma, she was still plugging away. Even her three, count 'em, three Razzie "wins" for Dirty Love in 2006 didn't deter her. Nor did her year on The View, during which time she established herself as our leading false authority on vaccination vis-à-vis autism. Thanks for the measles outbreak, Jenny!

Say what you will, Jenny McCarthy is a survivor. I respect that. Now she's hitting Little Creek Casino with a lineup of raunchy comedians. Does she know a damn thing about standup? You be the judge.

JENNY MCCARTHY: DIRTY SEXY FUNNY, 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, Little Creek Casino, 91 W. State Rd. 108, Shelton, $20-$40, 800.667.7711