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People Top 5
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- December 29, 1997
- Vol. 48
- No. 26
TV's Average Joe Finds His Audience—and Bares a Long-Held Secret
Maybe—if every woman wants to dance the shag in front of a national audience. This year a series of production numbers has the cast shimmying to rock music and gallivanting through the streets of Cleveland, where the show is set. "We're finding a wacky side that is pure entertainment," says coexecutive producer Bruce Helford. "We're constantly breaking the mold."
Now Carey, a Cleveland native (he still keeps the one-bedroom, A-frame house he grew up in) and onetime Marine who spent five years doing stand-up before breaking into TV, must deal with fame's trappings. On the downside, he complains, the tabloids are obsessed with his party-animal antics. (In fact, says the never-married comic, with his 40th birthday looming he's drinking less, eating better, exercising and has shed 17 pounds.) On the upside, he got $3 million to write Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of the Unrefined, a generally funny collection in which he reveals—almost in passing—that he was sexually molested as a child and discusses his two suicide attempts. Carey won't give details of his abuse and insists others have endured worse. "But it happened," he says, "and I shouldn't be ashamed of it." His writing about the assault, he believes, "will help other people."
The trauma may also have fed his formidable talent. Because Carey's in touch with his emotions, says Helford, he's "a far better actor than the guys who can just deliver punch lines." And, to his fans, far more accessible: someone flawed, someone getting by—someone just like them.
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