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Monday, April 07, 2014

Remembering John Pinette

I was saddened to hear about the death of John Pinette, a very funny man whose life ended in a Pittsburgh hotel room this weekend at age 50.

I first met John in 1998 when his career was taking off. I saw him perform on a Thursday night at the DC Improv and tear the place apart. A very large man, he did the funniest fat-guy material this side of Louie Anderson, but added voices and singing and other material in a fabulous set. The next morning, he visited my radio show to promote the rest of his weekend shows, and we had a great time on and off the air for an hour.

Before he left, I invited him to perform later that year at my annual benefit event, The Comedy Concert For Children's Hospital. He accepted immediately, joining a roster that included Bobby Collins, Chris Bliss, Bob Somerby, Rene Hicks, and DaVinci's Notebook. They were all terrific, and John did an amazing half-hour. The following year, he was named Stand-Up Comedian Of The Year at the American Comedy Awards.

The next time I saw John was several years later in St. Louis, when he joined me in the studio and I was shocked to see he'd lost a lot of weight. He told me he'd battled obesity for years and finally decided to have lap-band surgery, which helped him drop over a hundred pounds, and he was determined to get down to a healthier size. That night at the Funny Bone, he was as hysterical as ever.

Unfortunately, he wasn't able to keep the weight off. At one point, he ballooned back up to nearly 400 pounds, then worked even harder to take it off. I understand he'd gotten down to around 200 pounds recently, but was left with serious problems with his heart and liver.

Here's John on stage in Montreal in 2006 when he returned to standup after 2 years in "Hairspray" for a special called "I'm Starving"...

Previously on Harris Online...