John Pinette talks about latest special “Still Hungry”

John Pinette is one of the funniest comedians in the business.  He is most well known for this Chinese Buffett bit.  His first Comedy Central special was titled “I’m Starving” and his follow-up which premiers on July 29th, 2011 is titled “Still Hungry”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to joke around with John and also chat about his new special.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your latest special/DVD “Still Hungry”?
John Pinette: The first special was “I’m Starvin'”…so “Still Hungry”, seemed like an appropriate name.  It is appropriate though in two ways, one obviously being a sequel but the other it is a double entendre.  I have been on the road 25 years.  I like performing more than ever…and am I still hungry to get on the stage and make people laugh? Yeah more than ever!  I like to say that I have set higher standards for myself that I did when I was a young kid and didn’t really know how to do this.  I learned by error and it is a tough road to learn.  You build over the 25 years, you are either going to love it more or you fade.  I feel like I love it more, so I definitely feel like I am still hungry.

MG: Tell us about the bits we can expect in this special?
JP: Oh yes, it has evolved.  It has evolved as my life has evolved.  It is not the comedy it was 5…10…15 years ago.  It is current. It progresses pretty naturally.  In 1998, I did “Show Me The Buffett” CD and it did well but everyone said “Well, he talks about food all the time”.  Well now I am watching “Man vs. Food”, this guy is eating a steak and cheese sandwich like size of an actual WWII submarine.  They are complaining about me?  All I did was mention that I happened to like a buffet or two.  There is the Food Network and they have food competitions….in Japan, they have the Iron Chef, if you don’t win they kill you [laughs].  There is food now all over the place.  You know you got a lot of food shows when you got me saying “Enough with the food, isn’t there an exercise show on” [laughs].  I do not mind poking fun at myself but I think done in pretty good taste and also all in good fun for this show.

MG: The only way I am watching this special is if it’s in 3D [laughs].
JP: Listen when we get me in 3D, that’s going to be something else.  Imagine me reaching through the screen and offering you a rib and then not letting go and pulling you through the screen [laughs].

MG: Being a comedian, you always are exposed to many funny jokes…do you adapt jokes that you hear to your sets?
JP: Definitely get aspects from Buddy Hackett, as a storyteller.  I think Billy Cosby is also a great storyteller.  There are a lot of comics that express angry like I do.  I once toured with Howie Mandel a long time ago.  He is a real practical joker and he really pissed me off a bunch of times.  He is a really nice guy but he likes his practical jokes.  Well it is 3am and I want to go to sleep.  He told me you need to be angry more on stage because it is really funny when you are angry.  I told him “No no no, I am really fucking angry…I am going to throw you through that window” [laughs].  But he has OCD, so you only have to cough on him to get him back.

MG: What do you like most about getting on stage? You ever get nervous?
JP: I get nervous before man.  I get tense sometimes.  I try not to think too much about the show until I start it.  Everyone has self doubt…but it also keeps you sharper if you use it the right way.

MG: Acting in Broadway shows, like “Hairspray”, how do you feel it differs from stand-up?
JP: I think one borrows from the other.  I think doing Broadway makes you stronger as a stand-up and stand-up gives you some tools to do Broadway, as far as being in front of an audience.  Singing and dancing was like climbing Mt. Everest, but as far as my relationship with the audience, that was pretty natural.  It was the hardest thing I have ever done but also one of the best things I have ever done.  At that stage in my life I didn’t think I could learn something like that all over again.

MG: How was it working with Frank Sinatra in the early days?
JP: He thought I was (Jackie) Gleason and I didn’t tell him different.  [laughs]  We got along very well.  There was a number of comics that got to work with him and I was lucky enough to be one of them.  I was walking around on a cloud.  It just blew my mind.  I was 29 years old and it did open a lot of doors for me.  In Vegas, unlike now there was a different headliner for every show and every headliners had opening comics.  It was great.  I did one of the last shows at the Desert Inn.  It is funny I started at Vegas in 1988, at the old Comedy Store in the Dunes.  They blew up the Dunes.  I headlined at the Sands…they blew that up.  Sahara…that got blown up.  They may be tacking dynamite around my place right now as we speak [laughs].

MG: Are you currently touring and if so where?
JP: We are doing a theater tour around October/November.  We will hit theaters throughout the east coast, midwest etc.  We will still be doing the clubs also though…just less.  I have had the same manager for 20 years and we have come to a point where we are a little bit better in booking more strategically.  So you’ll definitely be hearing from us.


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