**Author’s Note: We started this email conversation out in November of 2014. Since that time Jimmy has signed a couple of different entertainment deals. Started hosting a show on the Science Channel. Guested on @Midnight multiple times. Continued touring and producing his two wildly popular podcasts. His life became incredibly hectic around question 8. We had a large break in the questions and answer format, and then I had to get all my stuff together to get my UXD degree finished up. This post is a testament to Jimmy’s ability to follow through on something he said he would do. He had the opportunity to bail on this tedious process on multiple occasions and for that I am so grateful. Now, without further ado… a 7 month conversation between me and Jimmy Pardo, my comedy hero.**
Today I get the singular honor of asking one of the most amazing comedians I have ever had the pleasure to meet my inane 20 Questions, Jimmy Pardo. Honestly, I have loved Mr Pardo's humor since before he sat next to Ted Danson at the counter on Becker. I enjoyed his Comedy Central Presents in 2002, and before that other appearances on Comedy Central's Premium Blend and other appearances and such. I thoroughly enjoy his Pompous Clown album and his more recent Sprezzatura.. I listen to them in order, I listen to bits and bops, every time I listen in I find something else in how he does his magic. I got to see him in Dayton a while ago and will make the effort to see him again the next time he is "in the neighborhood,' so to speak I feel lucky that I get to listen to him hold court twice a week with his award winning podcast Never Not Funny (of which I have been a listener since Season 3). Jimmy is honestly one of my top 2 favorite comedians in the whole wide world, and he is not in the second slot. I honestly would have never had the guts to ask the esteemed Mr Pardo to answer my silly 20 Questions, but, unbeknownst to me, previous 20 Questioner April Richardson asked him for me. Needless to say, I am a bit nervous, one does not typically get to interact, even in a digital format with someone they just cannot get enough of. Now that I have fanned out to much it is time to get this started. So everyone put on a nice slack and hard shoe, it is now time to read 20 Questions with Jimmy Pardo.
I have a degree in cartography and one of the things I enjoy is seeing people's story of place. I was born at an Air Force base outside of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and the family moved to Montgomery, Al when I was about 18 months old. We moved to Birmingham, Al on my 3rd birthday, my party was at a rest stop on I-65. I stayed in the Birmingham area until I went off to college in Kent, Ohio where I met my lovely fiance now wife. We moved to Columbus for grad school at Ohio State and now live in Worthington, Ohio (a smaller city inside the Columbus outer belt). Question 1: What is your geographic story?
First off, my apologies in advance for my horribly written answers… I type like I talk and sometimes that makes me look like an illiterate jackass.
I spent the first 8 years of my life on the South Side of Chicago… around 79th and Cicero…
We then moved to Hometown, IL… that’s right, it’s a city called Hometown. This was at 87th and Cicero. Spent 2nd-8th grade there.
Continuing our love of Cicero Avenue, we moved to around 159th and Cicero to Oak Forest, IL the summer between 8th grade and Freshman year in High School.
With the exception of a year in the mid-80s when I moved to Pasadena, CA to attend the American Academy Of Dramatic Arts, I lived in Oak Forest until I moved to Los Angeles for good.
As all good little comics, I started in North Hollywood (2 years) moved to Valley Village (3 years), met my now wife and moved to Los Angeles proper, living in a 2 bedroom apartment just off Fairfax (5 years), we then rented a house in a neighborhood that I describe as “just south of movie stars and just north of dicey” (4 years) We had a baby boy and bought a house a little farther south, closer to LAX. We’ve been here almost 6 years. Whew… everyone okay? Anyone winded?
I love it when people type how they talk... grammar can be so stuffy and we are all fine here. One person I asked this question to wrote for 3 days. Having listened to the podcast for years I also know of your love of the band once named The Chicago Transit Authority... Question 2: Is it the horns? It has to be the horns, right?
I think the horns play a big part of it… But, there is also amazing guitar work from Terry Kath. Peter Cetera is an underrated bass player. Danny Seraphine is a terrific drummer and Robert Lamm can write one hell of a song! I also grew up listening to them because my Dad played them a lot. I will also add the fact that the first time I saw them in concert was in the front row and I think that played a big part of it. But, yea… if it makes you happy, it’s the horns.
When I conjure up the sound of Chicago in my head, it is always a bit brassy with a hint of keyboard. I have to say that I am so glad you did not say it was because you grew up in the Chicago area, because I grew up in Alabama and my heart is not on fi-rah for El-vi-ra.
To steal an older bit from Paul F Tompkins which is my typical Question 3, Question 3: Cake or Pie? Specifically which kind and why?
Well… I’m going to be “That Guy”… Elvira was a song by the Oak Ridge Boys, who started in Oak Ridge Tennessee, if I’m not mistaken. If It was Oak Ridge Alabama, I will stand corrected and apologize in my next response.
as for your question… I like both, but push-come-shove, pie. Apple Cinnamon. Because it’s good.
Crap! I knew something didn't seem right about what I had written. It was Goddamn "Mountain Music" for Alabama. I am soo far removed from my Alabama days that I forgot that, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because it is nice to be far removed from Alabama and bad because that means my think-melon is not thinking too good no more. I will catch flack from some of my Alabamian friends, but I don't live in Alabama anymore so I win by default. Sadly, "Giddy up a Oom Poppa Oom Poppa Mow Mow" is catchy though. I would rather deal with you being "that guy' than suffer the slings and arrows of childhood friends.
I also am more of a pie person, which is odd since my mom decorated cakes as a side business from the home. I guess one can have their fill of cake, because I would help her bake her cake and eat it too.
So, in my fourth and fifth grade talent shows in my elementary school I did stand up. I killed Friday (in school assembly) and the Saturday night show both years. For all four shows I had that gymnasium eating from the palm of my hand, but the kid who could break dance and do "the jack-hammer" to Midnight Star's "No Parking on the Dance Floor" won both years, and the girl with the long hair came in second for her stirring rendition of "The Rose," and the girl with the less long hair placed third with her version of "The Rose" (at least that's how I remember it for 2nd and 3rd... I'm not bitter). What I am saying is that I got an honorable mention for my stand-up, so I know funny. Question 4: When did you know that comedy was the thing for you?
I don’t really remember a “comedy is for me moment”… but apparently everyone I ever had contact as a child says they knew it.
I know I wanted to perform in some way… rock band (which I did in High School), plays (all through school)… Over the years I have tried to figure this out… Through years of therapy and simply by remembering I discovered the following: I listened to a lot of comedy albums and wrote the jokes out verbatim on paper so I could repeat them… I obsessed over SNL & SCTV and I reworked a bunch of jokes from Steve Martin’s “Let’s Get Small” for a Cub Scout talent show when I was 12. So push-come-shove, let’s say VERY early on, I knew it. I also know that will be the last time I use the phrase “push-come-shove” (I also make no promises).
I will grant you that '"push-come-shove" is an interesting truncation of "when push comes to shove." Use it as much as you see fit... knowing that if you see it fitting more than twice, your cognition has clearly been compromised. So, use it as much as you see fit to your own cognitive peril.
In regards to "push-come-shove," you do so love a nice turn of phrase and very specific words, Question 5: Is there a specific phrase or word/set of words that you would like to see re-entered into the modern day vernacular? For example, I love "whilst," but find it difficult to interject this word into modern day situations without seeming like an idiotic jerk.
I try to use antiquated words and phrases as much as possible for humor. It then backfires as I have to spend 4 minutes explaining what I meant after the word/phrase is met with silence. But push-come-shove, if I had to pick just one… I’d go with “icebox” instead of refrigerator. I always liked that my Grandmother called it that well into the 1990s. It just sounds better. Refrigerator is an awful word. My mouth doesn’t like it.
ooooh, I love "icebox." I think I might take up the flag on that word. That is a delightful word... I think the letter "x" is underused, because the sound associated with the "x" is just fun sound to say.
Onto a little bit of a different idea... I think for comedians who have strong podcasts with larger numbers of subscribers such as yourself with the award winning Never not Funny, the effect of having greater fan interaction and bigger specifically for you crowds at your live shows is now fairly well known to people who pay attention to things such as this. When you started up Never Not Funny all those years ago, this was not a known effect. Podcasting is a new and unknown entertainment medium. It is an untested and unproven technology, especially 9-ish years ago. Question 6: Why did you start doing the podcast?
You know I like the band KISS, but they recorded a horrible song titled “Let’s Put The X in Sex” and you just made me think about it… and now I am angry.
As for why I started a podcast. I was doing a non-televised talk show at the UCB Theater here in Los Angeles and the gent who is now my co-host/producer Matt Belknap, asked if I wanted to turn that into a podcast. I knew a little about podcasts because of Ricky Gervais and Matt himself was actually doing a podcast (AST Radio) where he interviewed comics about the craft. After I did his show, he suggested we partner up and have me host a great podcast. I didn’t know who would listen or care, but man did it take off. We became pretty popular right away as there weren’t a lot of quality comedy podcasts out there. I think our first 1000 listeners were probably more tech nerds more than comedy nerds. The show initially began with my friend Mike Schmidt on the first 50 or so episodes and then it was time for him to spread his wings, so to speak. He now has his own terrific show “The 40 Year Old Boy”. WE now have a different guest every episode. WE provide a free episode via Earwolf and a second episode to paid subscribers via The Never Not Funny Player’s Club. That also includes video for both episodes and the occasional bonus episode.
I think that KISS song would have been much better if the "x" were phonetically spoken, a la "Let's put the cKs in Sex." Oh, the no-make-up years... ugh.
There is an interesting phenomenon associated with podcasts where it is largely a one-way interaction. There is an imbalance in the intimacy between the podcaster and the listener that causes the listener to feel like they "know" the podcaster on a very personal level. Seriously, you have been talking to me in my earphones for hours upon hours upon hours. Question 7: How do you deal with this disparity in personal knowledge and intimacy when you interact with your listeners?
I just realized I never answered this. And because of my inability to answer in a timely manner… I am passing on this question.
Deftly deflected. I do think there is a difference in intimacy from you to the listener and from the listener to you. For example, I know way more about your child then you know of the mere existence of my kids. This difference has to lead to some level of discomfort in your interactions with overzealous fans. I know Maron has some frequent complaints about fans of his podcast driving by his house and other odd behaviors. Of course, he also has frequent complaints about self-crippling doubt and ice cream consumption, so he may not be the best barometer. Needless to say, I cannot imagine this type of fan interaction being an extremely comfortable type of interaction.
On a bit of a different subject, Question 8: Since you are one of the entertainment pioneers in the podcasting milieu, do you foresee any changes to the medium in the next few years? Will there soon be a great contraction where many of the smaller podcasts go away much like blogs lost their momentum in the late 00's?
Truth is, I have had great experiences meeting fans of the podcast after shows and such… and yes, it’s very weird that they know that I once enjoyed getting a muffin and soda every morning with my son while I am asking “What’s your name”? (for the record, I got soda, my son got milk)
The only time the intimacy is problematic is when I’m performing at a club or theater and an overzealous fan yells out one of my family member’s name while I’m trying to tell a story about them.
I honestly have no idea where podcasting is going… every time I think it’s leveling out, I hear about someone new starting one. I have to admit, I am amazed at the amount of established famous people that are getting into podcasting. What once seemed like something for the comedy elitists is now there for the masses. Kind of like the comedy club boom of the 80s. It was a neat thing to head to a comedy club at one time, then it just became something to do… like bowling or going to the movies. If I had to guess, I would say that podcasting will go the same route. The cream will rise and stay and the rest will go back to their day job. Much like the blog in the late ‘00s. (so basically what you said in 675* more words.)(*not verified)
I keep hoping that the cream will come to the top of this blogging thing and that I am, in fact, creamy... That really reads creepy.
Not long ago I posted the first ever 20 Questions I did from 10 years ago... It was surreal seeing my answers to 20 random questions from back when I had hair . (Fyi, this blog started out as a daddy blog in 03, and due to writer’s block I started asking people for 20 questions to answer. Now I have done over 300 posts and around 30 or so interviews)
I will continue to toil away in the relative obscurity of the blogging mines until I can figure out a way to creative some other kind of compelling 20 Questions Tuesday format.
I know some of your TV viewing habits from listening to Never Not Funny and the Player's Club, and even though I think I know the answer to this... Question 9: do you listen to any podcasts yourself?
I listened to “Serial” like every other podcast fan. I liked it to a point and then I really started finding it creepy that we were making these people’s lives into some sort of reality show… all in the name of journalism. I listen to Phil Hendrie’s show everyday. He is a genius. I enjoy “Rock Solid with Pat Francis”, “Comedy Bang Bang” and “The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project”… otherwise, I dabble here and there depending on guests, etc…
Out of defiance I did not dip into Serial. It seemed a bit voyeuristic to me and I have never really gotten into true crime kind of things. I will not bore you with my ungodly list of podcasts that I consume. It equals about 40 hrs of content weekly. I need a new job that engages my brain.
Question 10: Please fill in the blanks: I feel that I am mostly ____________. Others feel that I am mostly ____________.
I feel that I am mostly __a decent person__________. Others feel that I am mostly ___an asshole_________.
I have a hard time thinking that other people mostly feel that you are an asshole. I know that in my limited interactions with you, you have been nothing less than a gentleman and a joy to chat with.
Question 11: do you honestly think that others feel that you are mostly an asshole? If so, how can we, your adoring fans, change that perception?
Nah. I just kinda like the contrast between the two in this fill in the blank concept. Except for the occasional lapse in responding to e-mails, I think I do a pretty good job communicating with the fans. Now… as for my friends… I stand by my initial response.
Good, I was hoping that you did not actually feel that others thought you were an asshole…
Ah, here we are at the Dirty Dozen.. One of my other 20 Questions Interviews just mentioned this question, and I felt it to be a perfect fit for this format. It is open ended and very telling if answered seriously. Question 12: Are you happy?
I am the happiest I’ve been in my life. I’ve had some great time in my life… Great family, I made lifelong friends with the guys I was in a rock band in in High School, I worked at the coolest record stores in the 80s, again with people that became lifelong friends… I worked for a record company and hung out with rock stars, traveled the country as a comic. BUT, now is the perfect time. I have a terrific wife, my son is the greatest and in addition to making people laugh every week with my podcast, I go to work and hang with the funniest group of people at Conan. Every now and then I get a TV gig and that just adds to the good stuff.
It is great that you are happy. That makes me happy.
Long story coming here. When I was a kid and was playing soccer in high school, I would get ready for a game by doing a "lucky ritual" to get ready for a game. It was a precise sequence of preparation... Lucky shirt under the uniform kit, under sock, shin guard, then uniform socks... Etc... I used to "think" that it was a lucky sequence such that the outcome of the game was dependent upon its application, but in reality it was a ritual that I used to get myself into the proper frame of mind for the game. It transitioned in my head from a straight-up superstition to a ritual. Question 13: Oh, unlucky 13, do you have any superstitions or rituals?
I have had many “rituals” and/or “superstitions” over the years.
There was a time when I could only eat a 6” tuna sandwich from Subway before a big show. For some reason it was the one thing that didn’t make the butterflies worse. Now I eat like an asshole no matter what the gig!
The current ritual is that I wear a new pair of underpants on any TV shoot. That’s right! If you see me on television in the future, assume I am wearing a brand new pair of under garments.
The best example of a dumb ritual/superstition was early in my career. I would wear a “special” Saturday shirt. It was a short sleeved salmon colored polo. I would wear it every week and it would get more and more misshapen as time went on. The last time it was worn was in Goshen, Indiana. I was doing what they call a one-nighter there. A one off gig at the Holiday Inn of Goshen. Pay + dinner and a room. My buddy and fellow comic Steve Lott, who is one of the funniest human beings I have ever met, lived nearby, had the night off, so came over to hang out. We played mini-golf in the dome for money (I lost miserably), had that free dinner and then it was showtime. I run upstairs to change, slip on my misshapen, special salmon polo and return downstairs. Steve mocks it and I explain I have never had a bad show in this shirt. I then went on stage and BOMBED miserably. I walked to the back of the room and the only thing said about the show was from Steve: “I guess you can get rid of that shirt now.” I left it in the trash can in that hotel room.
These are great! It is always amazing how the human brain attempts to wrap meaning into happenstance and create a pattern out of chaos. I know that I give way more significance to coincidence than I should. The human brain is just not that smart.
Question 14: Do you think that comedians remember the sets where they bombed fantastically or the sets where they absolutely killed more? and why do you think that? It is like 2 questions in one. I am on fire... but it is not 2 questions, it is 1 compound question. You won't be getting to the 20th Question that easily, Mr Pardo.
I think we remember the bad ones more than the good ones… Theoretically, if we are successful, we’d have more good ones than bad, Many more…probably 93% good over a lifetime from open mics to television success. I can recall a few of the “great” ones, but not in much detail… more like “Oh yea, great club… had one of my best sets ever there.” BUT, the bad ones, we can remember in amazing detail. It’s also more fun to talk about the really horrific ones. There is usually a story that goes along with them.
*93% may not apply to everyone… including me
I think that is probably pretty standard across the human experience. Good stuff is glossed over in a euphoric daze, while bad things are scrutinized in minute detail.
Onto a different subject, and one I hope you will find interesting. Within the the recent past you really took to running and since that time you have been in multiple half marathons. My wife started running a few years ago as well, and since she started off, she has done a half, a few marathons, and a 50k. For this kind of commitment to an activity, there has to be some level of enjoyment. Question 15: What is it about running that brings you back to it beyond the subsequent health benefits?
Now THAT is an interesting answer. For the past few months I have been running 2 to 3 days a week on a treadmill around for 4 miles a shot. I cannot stand it. I hate it. If it were not for crappy action movies on Netflix or other streaming I would have been able to continue. Crappy movies like "Olympus Has Fallen" distract me just enough to keep my legs moving. The times that I have attempted to run in the out of doors, I have found that listening to podcasts, audiobooks, or music does not keep me from doing weird mathematical gymnastics in my head trying to figure out how much longer I have to run. Conversely, my wife uses running almost as a meditative exercise. It is how she clears her mind, gets some grounding, and gives her space. I find it interesting that you feel you gain nothing beyond the health benefits, yet continue it so voraciously. Kudos to you Mr Pardo. Kudos to you. That is more willpower than I tend to have. Wow... I kind of went on for a bit there.
From listening to the podcast, it sounds like you stay within reach of a half marathon's distance most of the time. Meaning that you can ramp up to 13.1 fairly quickly if you find a half that you want to do. Question 16: How much do you typically run, when you just run for a workout and not ramping up for a half?
OK… obviously, my answer was short for humor… but the truth is, I don’t know what I get out of running (other than health). I know I feel better when it’s done and I’m glad I did it, but otherwise, I don’t know. I’m with you… if the run is anything over 5K, I spend every second thinking about how much time I have left. Where we differ is on location. If I am on a treadmill, the time drags on like calendar pages falling off in the background in a movie scene. Outside, while I want it to end, I enjoy it. I know, it’s a paradox. I do like running in sanctioned events… 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathons… I feel a sense of accomplishment and look forward to the next one. AND that kind of leads us to the answer for this question. I run at least a mile a day depending on time. I try to make it at least 3 miles, but life can get in the way. I then pepper in longer runs throughout the week - 6 to 8 miles. I have no idea if I’m healthier. I have no idea if I’ve lost weight. I have no idea why I do this. (The weight thing could be because I refuse to stop eating like an asshole)
I need to stop drinking Mt Dew. I imagine that I will feel much better when I stop super charging my system with the disturbing amount of sugar I am consistently ingesting. I am doing this running thing primarily to hopefully last a bit longer for my wife and kids. But I hate every step of it. I envy my wife's ability to get enjoyment out of running. I will re-attempt this out of doors running thing again this weekend.
For your podcast, the award winning Never Not Funny, you get all kinds of guests. I have my favorite guests, people I know are going to knock it out of the park every time I see they are on the show. I am sure you have favorite guests as well. There are definitely people who you "click" with, and sometimes the people you click with are surprising. So, Question 17: Do you have an ultimate guest that you would absolutely love to have on the show? If so, are you willing to share who that ultimate guest, white whale is?
I think the holy grail for all podcasters is Albert Brooks. I would also love to have Tina Fey or Julia Louis Dreyfuss on. We’ve had some musicians on in the past, so to get Peter Cetera would be a dream for me. There are others, but I’m keeping those ideas close to the vest so others don’t come and “get the scoop”.
Albert Brooks seems like a comedic genius, but I would be curious to see how he is at interacting in a round-table silly conversation. Even his spots on Carson seemed to be constructed, incredibly funny and well thought out, but constructed. I think Tina Fey and Julia Louis Dreyfuss would be incredible for episodes if they were willing. In case you were wondering, and I am sure you were, I have no opinion on Cetera as a guest. That would really rely on how candid he would be willing to be in telling tales of performing.
Well... since we are nearing the end of these 20 Questions, turnabout is fair play. Question 18: Is there any question you want to ask me? (note: please don't ask about what I do for a living. I am often asked that and have answered it multiple times, if you are curious, I will gladly tell you outside of this thing.)
I hear what you are saying about Albert Brooks, but I honestly believe he has to have nothing but funny in his bones and would not only be a home-run, but a grand slam.
The last thing I would ever ask is “What do you do for a living?”. I have little to no interest in you as a person. Although one could argue that since it took around 6 months to complete this interview that we can be considered pen pals, so maybe I should care more about you. Hmmm. Oh well, something to think about. You know what I will get personal… thanks for the nudge…
What’s the last physical CD you purchased? I don’t mean download, I mean actual hold in your hand CD.
Wow, I have to think hard about this. It has been years since I have gotten any physical media. I think it has to be "Showroom of Compassion" by Cake in 2011. I really miss having physical media, but convenience is over-coming permanence and fidelity.
Question 19: What are you taking away from these 20 Questions that you did not bring in with you?
I too like the convenience… but I have now become “that guy” and buying everything on vinyl. It reminds me of the grand days of the 70s and 80s when one went to the record store and hunted and gathered. I’m cool.
What am I taking away? Hmm… IN addition to the fact that I am unable to respond in a timely fashion, I guess that I’ve been unhappy with 18 of the 19 answers I’ve given so far. I’m also not thrilled with some weird choices or sentences.
I have heard you have a thing for the 180 gram vinyl.
Well, I have been delighted by 18 of the 19 responses so far, and have had the pleasure of interacting with one of my comedy heroes. It pains me that I was out of state when you were most recently in Cincinnati and will be out of state when you are in Dayton. I really cannot thank April Richardson enough for roping you into doing this. I drew her this Morrissey for her 20 Questions
The final question for you. Question 20: What's next? You can be as detailed or as vague as you want to be, as short term or as long term, or as practical or philosophical...
Ok… let’s end this. The weight this has put on me has been unbearable. This entire process has been like an anchor around my neck dragging me down to the bottom of the sea. So to answer the 20th and final question… What’s next? Well, obviously, the big party that goes along with ending this 7 month e-mail exchange. Sweet Jesus, why did it take so long? Why couldn’t I have just answered in a timely fashion? I will probably attend a few more LA KISS Arena Football games. I will probably attend a 4th of July celebration. I am a patriot after all. I will probably attend a Chicago concert. I may see Rent. I may see Phantom Of The Opera. There are so many options.
I know for sure that on July 25th I will be watching the premier of “Race To Escape” on Science Channel. It is a terrific show conceived by the brilliant Riaz Patel and I am honored to be hosting it. Hell, I have no memory… did I already plug this? Well, if I did, I did. If not… July 25th on Science Channel, it’s “Race To Escape”. I will be promoting it on a bunch of radio and TV outlets including “Conan,” @Midnight and of course my award winning podcast, “Never Not Funny”. NNF can be found on the EarWolf Podcast Network or at nevernotfunny.com.
That’s it… I will now block your e-mail address. (I will not be doing this. Not because I don’t want to, but rather because I don’t know how. Maybe I should ask my 7 year son how to do it. I’m an idiot)
That just happened. I am giddy with excitement at having had a 7 month conversation with THE Jimmy Pardo. This was an absolute delight. I cannot stress that enough. So much fun. Listen to his podcasts, The Players Club and Never Not Funny. Watch him on the Science Channel when “Race to Escape” hits. Follow him on twitter, and buy his album Sprezzatura.
Jimmy is a saint
He did not realize how much of a commitment he made when he started
And now, 7 months later I am pretty sure he does not want to see my email in his inbox again
Everyone, let Jimmy know that he is amazing
Because he is
I had an article published in UX Matters yesterday
You should read it
It can be found here
Oh, and Sunday was my birthday as well
Nary a present from one of you cheapskates
I kid, I kid, I don’t want your presents
You know, unless you wanted to give me one or something
Have a great weekend everyone