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Wielding Puns and Staple Guns

"Who the hell wants to think about banging a nail in when they're banging a nail in?" asks Ed Feldman, C'82.
   That's the philosophy behind Men in Tool Belts, his new how-to show with Joe L'Erario on The Learning Channel. So whether they're installing a hot tub, repairing a roof, or revamping a kitchen during their half-hour time slot, they're also cracking jokes and making references to pop culture, literature, and history. Kelly Ryan, C'84, is the show's executive producer and director.
   The comic duo, better known as the "Furniture Guys" from their previous shows, met each other -- and traded jokes -- on a construction site in 1979, while Feldman was working his way through Penn. Feldman later learned furniture repair when he had to replace an injured friend at her job. He started his own business and began teaching furniture-repair classes, bringing L'Erario in as a guest lecturer. Out of that grew the idea of a funny TV show about furniture repair -- a how-to show that actually wasn't boring.
   Feldman had developed his comic talents as a child, memorizing the records of the ribald Lenny Bruce -- though he didn't understand them. "It was like a Berlitz thing after a while. I listened to him so often that I could recite the whole record." And he did, once, to the shock of guests at his parents' New Year's Eve party.
   Philadelphia's WHYY began airing Feldman and L'Erario's program in 1990, and it went national on The Learning Channel in 1993, as Furniture To Go. The show was nominated for two CableAce awards this year. This season, TLC changed its format and name to attract a more broad-based audience.
   Men in Tool Belts airs Saturdays at 2 P.M. and Sundays at 9:30 A.M. Check out their Web site at www.furnitureguys.com

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Copyright 1997 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 12/11/97