Both, says Cramer, a 50-year-old former hedge fund manager who also cofounded TheStreet.com. “There is a philosophy to the orchestrated chaos of the show,” Cramer says, in his distinct, suburban Philadelphia accent. “People need to know more about the stock market. So I say, ‘Let me help you. Let me inform you and entertain you, and I think you’ll make better investments.’ ”

Maybe he’s right. Maybe he’s just nuts. Either way, Jim Cramer is doing something else that’s unique among today’s business TV offerings — he’s making investing seem fun again. That’s not an easy task in this market. Investors’ ears are still ringing from the bursting of the 1990s tech bubble. Plus, a parade of corporate scandals has left many individual investors unwilling to trust corporate America. Maybe that’s why the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been flat for almost a year and why trading volume isn’t growing as exponentially as it was just a few years ago.

“We may be in one of those moments where people dislike stocks too much,” Cramer says from his Wall Street office, perched just above the New York Stock Exchange building. “The scandals were so numbing. People think the market is now an insider’s game.” He suddenly pounds the table in front of him, and shouts, “It’s not, and I can tell them it’s not. There is a lack of enthusiasm right now, but I’m going against it.”

The cuff links are a surprise. On camera, Cramer is wrinkled and rumpled. Always. His hair — what’s left of it, anyway — is unkempt. And he never, ever wears a jacket. So, when he meets me one morning, shortly after the opening bell has rung on Wall Street, I’m surprised to find him wearing what looks like an expensive, purple, French cuff shirt with gold-and-onyx cuff links. I’m also surprised to see that Cramer is well groomed and pressed. He won’t stay that way. About six hours after our interview, Cramer will film Mad Money — the show tapes just about an hour before it airs — and by then he’ll look like he’s spent the day tumbling in a clothes dryer.