Stand-up comic John Pinette has a resumÃ© that looks like it belongs to Forrest Gump.
Odds are, he's been in something you've seen, whether you recognize him or not. In the span of his nearly 30-year career, Pinette has opened for Frank Sinatra, cross-dressed in the Broadway production of Hairspray and did his first TV show alongside a cateating alien life form.
"I'm on ALF, I'm in a dress on Broadway... I don't know," the 48-year-old jokester told the Now from his hotel room in Thunder Bay, Ont. "Part of it has been a huge blessing, part of me wants to say, 'Wow, weird s--t really happens to me.'"
His career path is also a little backward; rather than starting out in comedy and falling back on a day job, stand-up comedy was his fallback when people said he should quit accounting.
"I've got to be honest with you, the accounting thing was more about the advice from my bosses at the bank," he said. "I wasn't a very good accountant."
The Boston native picked a good time to bring his comedy to the stage: New England's stand-up scene was booming and it was possible to get gigs seven nights a week. After expanding to gigs in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, his jokes got more exposure and landed him some film and television roles.
Pinette's biggest claim to fame might be his appearance in the two-part series finale of Seinfeld, viewed by an estimated 76.3 million American households. He played a carjacking victim as Jerry, Elaine and George watched and, as the show goes, did nothing (while Kramer filmed the whole thing).
"I was supposed to go from Vegas to Appleton, Wisconsin (for stand-up shows)," he recalled. "I call up my manager and he says, 'You're not going to Appleton, Wisconsin, you're doing the last episode of Seinfeld.' And I said, 'But what about Appleton?'"
Actually, he didn't say, "But what about Appleton?" However, he did fly to Warner Bros. for the hush-hush filming, noting that the craft services was on par with a high-end wedding.
"It was a very classy shoot, it was a sevencamera shoot," he said. "How can you f--k up a seven-camera shoot? They have everything but your colon."
In the finale's courtroom scene, Pinette's character testified alongside a star-studded list of cameos from the show's nine seasons, including the Low-Talker, the Bubble Boy and the Pakistani restaurateur Babu.
"I think I'm going to Appleton, Wisconsin, and the next thing I know, I'm next to the Soup Nazi," he said.
Since then, his stand-up career has taken off. He has five comedy albums, dozens of film credits and thousands of headlining performances under his belt.
And Pinette isn't afraid to laugh at himself; his self-deprecating sense of humour pokes fun at his weight, eating habits and even the gastric bypass surgery he had several years ago.
"I put it on the table," he said. "I know my story pretty well and I find that people can relate to it. I don't want to do 'I'm so fat that.' jokes, but I would like to talk about it.
"I was up around 450 pounds and I'm probably about 165 pounds lighter than that now. I do want to lose another 40 pounds because that means I could say that I lost a person that needed to lose weight."
He hopes to keep the weight off despite being in talks with the History Channel for a show revolving around food - not a cooking show, but one in which Pinette will provide commentary on food history.
"You wouldn't think it, but I'm a picky eater," he said. "If I had Andrew Zimmern's job, Bizarre Foods, all's they would have is shots of me going, 'No,' and walking back on the plane."
Before that show takes off, Pinette has a few dozen dates left on his current tour, including Surrey on Sunday, Sept. 30, at Bell Performing Arts Centre. His set is sure to include such famous bits as his troubles at a water park and being banned from a Chinese buffet, though he admitted his tastes have changed.
"Actually, I don't eat a whole lot of Chinese food anymore," he said. "I used to love bok choy and all that stuff.. Don't write that I like vegetables, it'll ruin my street cred."
Pinette's show in Surrey, part of a Just For Laughs tour of Canada, starts at 7: 30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets cost $51 and can be bought at ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1-855-985-5000.
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