Missing John Pinette
The first nice thing John Pinette ever did for me was to violently swat a cup of foul tasting tap water out of my hand and replace it with bottled water. Whenever he makes fun of me, I remind him that he found me on the streets. Oh wait, I’m supposed to write stuff like that in past tense now. . . whenever he made fun of me. Ugh.
I’m having a bit of a hard time accepting this. When I heard the news the other day, I refused to believe it. I texted Tim Krompier, “Is it true?” He called me immediately and said yes, and we sobbed on the phone.
I’m sick over the passing of John Pinette. He was a treasure in the world of comedy. I’m so lucky and honored to have been able to open for him several times. I’m grateful that he also considered me a friend. We would talk on the phone a few times a week, although sometimes it was just for a minute or two just so he could make me laugh. . . then he would make fun of my laugh. I loved that! During my set at the last show we did together last month at The Comedy & Magic Club, I could hear him loudly mimicking my laugh in the back of the showroom just to mess with me.
I’m clinging to those special little memories right now, and I thought I would share a few.
The first time I met John was several years ago at the Fort Lauderdale Improv. I was new and performing at the open mic that night. In walks John (he would be headlining that weekend), not demanding or expecting a set but graciously asking if there was room on the lineup and double checking that no comedian would be bumped. I had so much respect for that! Huge names have every right to bump a comic, but John refused to. Last year, I got to work for him for the first time. Before then, I only knew him from being a sweetheart at that open mic night and, of course, from the legendary stories of his kindness, of always crushing and selling out clubs, and perhaps just one or two urban legends of some crazy parties. I was giddy about getting booked with him, and before the show I told him how excited I was to finally work with him. I was geeking out so much, that he just looked at me, shook his head and said, “Boy, it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re around.”
I thought the same thing about him.
John watched me perform for the first time, and when I got off stage he said to me, “We are going to work very well together.” Cue me crapping myself with delight. That was the start of a beautiful friendship...one with some ups and downs, but mostly with a lot of adoring love and mutual respect.
John was a notoriously generous tipper. He would keep giant wads of 20’s in his pockets and called it “walkin’ around money.” He tipped everyone, especially his opening acts because he loved his fellow comedians. One night, he even tipped my kid! He sent me home with take-out from the Cheesecake Factory for my daughter with a 20 dollar bill hidden between the napkins. “Kids love finding money,” he said.
John was ridiculously fun to hang out with. Once, in the grocery store, he held up a giant pork loin and yelled to me from far away, “HONEY, PUT THIS IN YOUR PURSE!”
Here he is pretending to be a shopper with difficult decisions to make. . .
Annnd wishing this was a doughnut. . .
Oh, and needing a beach ball for no reason. . .
John was also fun to watch movies with. We were watching a sci-fi movie, and he got distracted during part of it, so I filled him in, “The alien tied her down and inserted something weird in her neck.” He said, “You lost me at neck.”
Once he asked me if I had seen a certain television show, and I said that I didn’t have a TV at the moment, so he says, “I’m buying you a TV.” I laughed and said, “John! You don’t have to buy me a TV!” That was John--just throwing gifts at people all the time like he was a Sultan. Don’t worry, I didn’t accept the TV, but believe me, he meant it.
On my birthday, March 20th, he took me out to a fancy shmancy amazing restaurant in Beverly Hills. We went with Kromps (Tim Krompier) and had a beautiful evening. As usual, he was a conveyor belt of kindness. It made me feel bad, that there wasn’t much I could do in return except try my best to be a solid friend.
I will say that I never took him for granted and always knew how special he was. He got mad at me once and told me to stop saying thank you to him so much for all the work and extra pay. He said I earned it with my talent. For all of these reasons, I constantly called him a comedy angel.
I love this pic taken in the greenroom at The Comedy & Magic Club with Kromps because that look in John’s eyes meant that he’d just been teasing me. . .
Here we are on stage at The Comedy & Magic Club celebrating his 50th birthday. On stage with us is Kromps, Darren Rose, and Derek Hughes. He totally made fun of my dress and said it looked like a sock.
Here he is doing the show. He lost so much weight that I could sneak a pic through the tiny slit in the curtain. . .
His birthday was actually the next day, on March 23rd. He took me to dinner and to see “Book of Mormon.” Another lovely outing with my dear friend. Even on his birthday, he treated everyone else. At the end of the evening I hopped out of the car and then turned back and opened the car door to give John a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. I told him, “Happy Birthday, John. Thank you for everything that you always do for me. . . I love you.” That’s the last time I would see my friend.
This is the pic that pops up on my phone when John calls. I mean, when he called. I’m gonna miss you, John Pinette, my comedy angel.