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Published:March 27th, 2008 09:46 EST
Wayne State University presents Jerry Springer

Wayne State University presents Jerry Springer

By Melody Andrews

"Jeerr-rry, Jeerr-rry, Jeerr-rry, Jeerr-rry."

In keeping with the talk show`s theme, excited Wayne State students welcomed the high-fiving talk show host to the stage in General Lectures.  The 64 year-old Springer returned the reception with a friendly wave and a genuine smile.  You rock! " shouted someone from the jovial and facetious audience as Jerry Springer settled down for an evening chat with the Dean of Students, David Strauss.

Just prior to Springer`s arrival, raunchy and hilarious anecdotes flowed freely around the room. "Hey, did you see the show where the man confessed to cheating on his wife with 50 pro*titutes-- who were all men?" was just one of many jokes.  Springer is well known for his talk show where, for a time, in your face confrontations, and fighting was the rule, and not the exception.   I`ll be the first to say our show is stupid, " Springer said. It has no purpose, but it has a consequence. "

Funny, smart and unexpectedly normal, Springer is far from the buffoon that most people might think him to be.  The show is how I make my money, and it`s fun, " he said, but I take politics seriously. "

So seriously in fact that in the late 70s he sought political office in Ohio and, as a result, he served two terms as Mayor of Cincinnati.  At the end of his second term, Springer quickly became a respected news anchor at WLWT-TV in Cincinnati, and would go on to win 10 local Emmys for his nightly news and political commentaries.  Candidly he says, I started out as a geek, and made a pretty successful career of it. "

Springer`s visit with David Strauss began with a leisurely stroll down memory lane with some Q&A by Strauss, clips and personal commentary of the most memorable topics from 17 years of eccentricities in human nature.

Springer seems to have covered it all-- from a man who married his horse that later left him because, as Springer puts it, he was hung like a man; to the significance of the quality of life as voiced from conjoined twins.  For all the craziness of the show, " says Springer, it has had an impact on our culture. "

A staunch opponent of television censorship, Springer grew up in the 1950s when television was, in fact, censored.  The Television Code of 1952 was meant to provide wholesome entertainment. "  Programming during this era clearly disregarded most non-white races, who endured the racial insensitivity blatant in the new medium. Our show is about outrageousness, " admits Springer, but, " he adds, everyone who is on our show is outrageous, we are non-discriminatory. "

Let`s face it. Poverty depicted anywhere other than a Hollywood studio is unattractive.  Wife beaters (white tank tops), missing teeth and bad manners often reinforce elitists` opinions that Springer showcases the human condition in all its stark vulgarity.  Springer takes exception to this and made a strong argument, critical of the double standard held for celebrities.  We call the show trash, the guests trash, people aren`t trash, they`re poor, but they are not trash. " However, Springer imagines, if we sat them on Oprah they`d be very polite.  They`d still have no teeth, but they`d be polite. "

We`re not out to out anybody; really, it`s not a mean-spirited show, " he explained.  Ambush journalism does not exist in the Springer universe.  Guests are well-informed with a list of roughly twenty-five possible surprises, and they must sign a disclaimer in front of the show`s staff of attorneys.  The recurring question, what`s going on? " is real, and it begins every show because Springer isn`t informed prior to airing/taping as to the subject matter or as to who will be his guests.

A "LIVE` Springer show briefly surfaced as WSU students grabbed the opportunity and the microphone to ask their own questions.  Jerry Beads are synonymous with breast flashing; and, yes, a female student requested some, but with the alternative of feet kissing.  Springer graciously obliged-- with a modest kiss.  After being propositioned for a date by a male student, Springer good-naturedly replied, if I were gay, you would turn me straight. "  So what, one might ask, is Jerry Springer`s fantasy show?  Angelina Jolie, Angelina Jolie, Angelina Jolie. "

For the past twenty-five years Springer has been going back to school.  His visit, either by random choice or by a university`s request, is his way of talking to and hearing from young people, and watching current attitudes. It`s so easy to get insulated in this business, " Jerry said, it keeps me in touch with the popular culture. "

Appearing as a contestant on the ratings smash, "Dancing With The Stars,` Springer doesn`t seem to have a problem with staying in touch, nor with being told that he couldn`t do splits.  Stamina, however, might be another story, after a half hour, I had a cheeseburger, and a nap. "