Comedian John Pinette Dead At 50, After Losing 200 Pounds And Getting Sober

04.07.14 5 years ago 41 Comments

Overweight comedians continue to have a worse life expectancy than Chernobyl survivors, as comic John Pinette died over the weekend, at the age of 50, in a hotel room, where all real comedians die. THR reports that the cause of death was a pulmonary embolism. TMZ adds that Pinette had been suffering from liver and heart disease, and checked into rehab for a prescription pill addiction last year. In the last year, Pinette had gotten sober and lost 200 pounds, according to his manager.

A native of Boston, Pinette was known for making jokes about his weight during his stand-up performances whose titles included “I’m Starvin’!” and “Show Me the Buffet.” In 2011, his “Still Hungry” special premiered on Comedy Central.

Pinette also appeared in movies like “Junior,” “The Punisher” and “Dear God.”

In the final episode of Seinfeld, Pinette portrayed an overweight man who gets carjacked at gunpoint. The show’s stars stand by and watch the incident and make fun of the man’s weight before they are arrested by a police officer for violating the “Good Samaritan Law.” [Reuters]

I really wish Reuters would’ve delved a little further into his life beyond the fat guy stuff.

“John had become a sober person,” [Pinette’s manager Larry] Schapiro said. “The sadness of this entire event is that for the first time in his life he was healthy, he was alive. He’d just turned 50 and John was on top of his game.”

Mr. Pinette was working on a new one-man show “They Call Me Slim” at the time of his death. Mr. Schapiro described the new material as “groundbreaking,” and said Mr. Pinette was maturing as an artist and exploring bringing deeper, more personal issues to the stage. [Pittsburgh Post Gazette]

I got to see John Pinette perform a few times in the last few years, and I went in initially not knowing who he was and came away impressed that he seemed to have mainstream appeal, but not in a cheesy hack kind of way (and it’s easy to become a cheesy hack when you’re doing a million road gigs like Pinette was), a guy who was funny to the older folks at the Poughkeepsie Chuckle Hut and the younger comedy nerds alike. He was the kind of comic that would go up there and sweat himself soaking for an hour, mixing up crowd work and prepared material in that seamless, seemingly effortless kind of way that guys who do it five or six times a week can. Aside from the sweating, he made it look easy, like going onstage with no notes and doing an hour of comedy was what he was born to do. Comics like Pinette, that bring disparate audiences together instead of vice versa, are getting more and more scarce these days, so it’s a shame to lose one. And to see someone you respect professionally die like a vacuum cleaner salesman makes it doubly depressing.

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