page 4 of 5
And it's only getting worse.

In the December 4th, 1995 issue of People, Tesh goes beyond boorishness into a new realm of strangeness. Explaining the thrill he gets while performing, he says, "It is like I've taken my penis and laid it on the piano and there's a big chopper right there..."

The ellipsis which ends that sentence is the springboard for hours of amateur Freudian analysis, and yet, who but Tesh can say what happens next? There's a big chopper right there, and then he starts to play, and then what, John?

Tesh doesn't provide an answer, because even he probably doesn't know what happens next. You get the feeling the words just popped out of his mouth before he even realized what he was saying. (Such fantasies do explain that funny, fixed grin he gets on his face while performing, however.)

There's a medical term for the urge to utter this kind of irrational, spontaneous, inappropriate remark: coprolalia. It is a common symptom of Tourette Syndrome, a favorite subject of talk shows because of the freakish, televisually compelling behaviours its sufferers display: they swear like Hollywood producers, they make inappropriate remarks, they exhibit a varied assortment of tics and twitches.

While it's highly unlikely that Tesh has Tourette Syndrome--it is a hereditary, neurological condition that generally first appears in childhood--it seems that Tesh might be suffering from some kind of media-induced approximation of it.

This may sound a little far-fetched, but it's not without precedent. Consider the sad saga of Michael Jackson. His case is somewhat different from Tesh's, in that there was a time when he did experience mass critical approval. But that was over a decade ago. In more recent years, he has been regarded as increasingly passe: too safe, too schlocky, too square.