Pardo the Interruption

Jimmy Pardo will be performing at The Laughing Derby Nov. 7 and 8.

Jimmy Pardo will be performing at The Laughing Derby Nov. 7 and 8.

By CHRIS HUMPHREYS
Contributing Writer

You might have caught a glimpse of Jimmy Pardo performing stand-up on shows like “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” or “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” or maybe “Conan,” where he currently warms up the crowd and has also filled in for O’Brien’s partner, Andy Richter on occasion. He’s even had his own half-hour special, “Comedy Central Presents Jimmy Pardo.” But chances are if you’ve heard Pardo’s comedy, it was probably sometime over the last eight years on his weekly podcast, “Never Not Funny,” where he and producer/co-host Matt Belknap have a free-flowing conversation each week with a different guest. Pardo is also known for his yearly podcast telethon that has helped raise close to a half-million dollars for Smile Train.

I recently spoke to Pardo about podcasting, the Pardcast-a-Thon and his upcoming appearances at Louisville’s own Laughing Derby on Nov. 7 and 8.

Chris Humphreys: You’ve been doing podcasts longer than just about anybody – do you plan on doing this for as long as you can?

Jimmy Pardo: I think so. We started in 2006. We did two years for free, (when) the comedy podcast boom hadn’t happened yet. Ricky Gervais and Adam Carolla were out there, but I just still felt like a nerd in my basement doing a cable access TV show. So then we went to the pay format and that worked – we picked the exact right time to do that.

Then the comedy podcast boom happened. We were being forgotten about. (People said) “I don’t want to pay for something!” Years later, Earwolf (podcast network) came to us and said, “Do you want to be part of our network?” We had been approached to join other networks over the years, but it just seemed like the time was right. Both Matt and I were making nice livings doing other things so we thought, “Why not take a chance and go back to a free format?” The response has been terrific; it did everything we wanted it to do. We quadrupled our number of listeners. The people that were paying for it still get a second episode every week. So it worked out.

Humphreys: It’s the sixth year for the Pardcast-a-Thon. The last two years you’ve raised over $100,000 each year – do you have a goal set for this year?

Pardo: Well the dream would be to outdo what we did last year, but you never know. The economy is different; everything is different. You want to do what you did the year before and keep moving forward.

Humphreys: The Pardcast-a-Thon benefits Smile Train, an international children’s charity that helps fund surgeries for cleft lip and palate. Why Smile Train?

Pardo: You know what? It’s this simple: I saw the ad on the back of Parade Magazine, that thing that comes in your Sunday newspaper, and it said “45 minutes and $250 can change a child’s life,” and my dumb little head understood that. To me it didn’t seem as daunting as giving to causes where you don’t really know what the money is doing, if it’s for research or this or that. So, this was just my dumb comedian head that understood if I gave $250, a child is getting a surgery and it’s changing their life. So I donated.

The next day on the show (we) came up with an idea to have a contest where whoever donated the most to Smile Train got to be a guest on “Never Not Funny.” So, we did it and that spun on into, “Hey let’s do a telethon to raise money for Smile Train.” It all just spiraled into a thing where Smile Train is now my charity of choice.

Jimmy Pardo.

Jimmy Pardo.

Humphreys: Do you have any guests committed to the Pardcast-a-thon yet?

Pardo: A lot of the show regulars are confirmed. We’re five weeks away so we just started to put offers out to other people.

Humphreys: What’s it like to talk for 12 hours straight?

Pardo: Luckily I’m there with two other guys, Matt Belknap and Pat Francis, so we take turns doing the heavy lifting. It’s a new guest every 25-30 minutes so they come out with new energy, and it’s fun, more than anything else. We used to do it from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. (PST) and that was awful. That was a nightmare. At four in the morning we all hit a wall – the audience, the performers, everyone. Now we go from noon to midnight (PST) so most of us are up anyway. It’s not that hard. It’s fun.

Humphreys: You mentioned the comedy podcast boom which is funny because Louisville is kind of going through a boom now with weekly comedy shows popping up around town at pizza joints and play houses and the Laughing Derby getting big names like yourself.

Pardo: That’s really nice of you to say. You know, I’ve actually always made most of my money in the Midwest. I started in Chicago, and then I traveled all around that area. But I haven’t been to Louisville since March of 1994. So, that was 20 years ago.

Humphreys: It’ll be quite different.

Pardo: Yeah, it was crazy. Tom Sobel (former owner of Comedy Caravan, now the Laughing Derby) had a Friday and Saturday gig in a hotel, maybe about 10 minutes away. I think that’s where I worked. Was that where I worked? Oh hell who cares; it’s been 20 years since I’ve been there.

Humphreys: Are you excited to come back?

Pardo: Of course! I always enjoyed my time in Louisville. I don’t know why it’s taken 20 years but I’m glad it’s finally in the books.

Humphreys: Well, hopefully we’ll see you back here again, sooner than another 20 years.

Pardo: You know what, my goal is to go everywhere every 20 years. I’m not very good at booking.

After doing a little research and reaching out to a local “figure who haunts Louisville’s comedy scene,” Rich Barber, I learned that the club Pardo spoke of was the, “Comedy Caravan at the Hurstbourne Hotel. There was a different host every week,” according to Barber.

See Jimmy Pardo live at The Laughing Derby, located at 1250 Bardstown Road, at Mid-City Mall Nov. 7 and 8. You can view show times and purchase tickets here. You can listen and donate to the Pardcast-a-thon, benefitting Smile Train at www.pardcast.com/ on Nov. 28 from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. EST. His free weekly podcast, “Never Not Funny,” can be found on iTunes.