Pinette leaves you on the floor laughing – without the Nyquil
Comedian John Pinette has been likened to a cherub, an Ewok and a chipmunk — and in fact does hilarious impressions of the latter two in his act.
Looking at him, it’s easy to understand why. But don’t be fooled; when it comes to comedy, Pinette has lived on the mean streets. Just under the roly-poly exterior is a hard-bitten guy who is very serious about his craft.
“I come from Boston, and living in Boston is all about pain and life experience,” said Pinette, who is co-headlining with Kathleen Madigan on Saturday at the MontBleu Resort and Casino. “Living there is a crazy experience. They say that if you can survive Boston, you can survive anything. It’s a Nitschke thing.”
Pinette was born in Boston and attended Malden Catholic High School, graduating in 1982. While in college his mother passed away, and he dropped out to get a job.
“The family said that I needed a marketable skill,” he said. “So I became an accountant. I did it for six months and I was miserable.”
He was also funny, a fact that friends kept reminding him of. Eventually he took their advice and tried the comedy stage.
“It was at Nick’s Comedy Stop,” he said. “Looking back at it, I was terrible. I think I just did Robin Leach impressions. But I stuck with in and in a short time I had a full-time job. What kept me going I think was like the line in “An Officer and a Gentleman,” when Richard Gere says “I’ve got nowhere else to go.”
His big break was when he was asked to tour with Frank Sinatra. He has also become a regular guest on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The View,” and now tours extensively. He was named Stand-Up Comedian of the Year by the American Comedy Awards in 1999, and has received a Gemini Award nomination for his televised performance at the Montreal Comedy Festival in 2000. He’s also been in 12 films, most recently as Mr. Bumpo in “The Punisher” in 2004.
Pinette is a storyteller in the tradition of Bill Cosby and Buddy Hackett, and in fact lists those two as big influences.
“I’ve never been the type of comedian to just go up and tell jokes,” he said. “I tell stories.”
A lot of Pinette’s comedy centers on fat jokes (he weighs in excess of 300 pounds). “No one ever looks at me and says, ‘You ski, don’t you?’ ” he says. But again, underneath the surface he’s more complex than that.
He recalls the first bit he ever wrote that got a big reaction from an audience.
“It was the Nyquil bit,” Pinette said. “Nyquil — may make you drowsy. Oh Yeah. It’s the sneezing, sniffling, coughing, stuffy wake-up-on-the-floor medicine. Hey, how did I end up on the floor? Oh yeah, medicine.”