Leave it to new NBC talk-show host Seth Meyers to introduce the nation to our state of strange.
“I don’t know if you guys like weird news items but I love them,” the former “Weekend Update” anchor from “Saturday Night Live” told viewers Wednesday. “Whenever I run across a news story that’s particularly bizarre, it’s almost always something that happened in Florida, I would swear sometimes they’re made up.
“It’s hard to tell the difference, right?”
And with that, “Fake or Florida,” a hilarious game-show skit on Meyers’ new “Late Night” show, was born.
Three studio audience contestants — one from Florida, actually — listened to headlines and tried to ascertain whether they were real.
Those who guessed correctly were acknowledged with the sound of a “retiree winning a bingo game.” Those who didn’t heard a “pageant mom yelling at her 4-year-old” (“Amber, no!”). Points were awarded with manatees — little seacow figurines on pegs.
The final round question, worth 50 manatees, was heralded with “the sound of a raccoon pushing a satellite dish off a carport.” Contestants wrote those answers wearing oversized Mickey Mouse gloves while listening to “soothing Florida beach music.”
These items tossed out by Myers were true:
• A pastor in Miami Gardens told the press that he would eat a live cockroach as a stunt to bring more people to his megachurch.
That would be Rich Wilkerson Jr., who in March made the promise because he wanted to get 1,500 people to a Tuesday night service at his Trinity Church, according to the Miami New Times. To boost attendance, Wilkerson has reportedly also shaved half his head, waxed his legs and even stunned with a Taser.
• A teacher in Volusia County told her class that the white part of a candy cane represents Jesus, because Jesus is white.
In December, the parents of a black first-grader pulled their daughter from DeBary Elementary. A school district spokeswoman told news outlets it was part of a “Holidays Around the World” lesson, but a substitute teacher used a book that wasn’t supposed to be used.
• A 326-pound man in Vero Beach punched a Domino’s delivery driver in the face because he forget to bring garlic knots. This was actually a trick question. “It was a 346-pound man,” Myers explained.
Indian River County deputies identified him as Robert Wheeler, 48, who had “fat” tattooed on one arm and “boy” tattooed on the right. He was arrested in August and charged with battery after the pizza deliverer said Wheeler instructed him to “give that to the person working on the phone back at the restaurant.”
• A man in St. Petersburg was arrested for throwing chunks of concrete at a hotel claiming that zombies were chasing him.
Well, not exactly chunks. In May, police said David Jensen, a 41-year-old homeless man, threw a doughnut-shaped concrete sprinkler protector at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel.
The winners received full-size state flags. Amazingly, the contestant from Florida was not one of them, finishing last. “A perfect Florida ending,” noted Myers.