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Monday, August 23, 2010

Jimmy Pardo interview

Jimmy Pardo – September 11, 2008

"Very rarely will I say nice things about myself because that'll only lead to self-esteem, but the podcast is something I'm really proud of and I think I'm putting out a great product." – Jimmy Pardo

Guy MacPherson: Jimmy Pardo?
Jimmy Pardo: This is he.

GM: This is Guy MacPherson calling from Vancouver.
JP: Hi, Guy. How are you?

GM: Great. How are you? Do you have a sec?
JP: Sure do. I'm in a car. I apologize for any bad connection or weirdness that happens.

GM: Oh, man.
JP: You want me to call you back?

GM: No, no, no. I get that all the time. It's absolutely fine.
JP: You want to talk to celebrities, Guy, we're movers and shakers.

GM: I know. Andy Richter was taking his kid to swimming lessons when I talked to him.
JP: And I'm just going to Amoeba Records. I can't even say mine's that exciting.

GM: They still have record stores?
JP: Compact discs.

GM: You can download them now, you know?
JP: What's this? I'll have to look into that.

GM: What are your musical tastes? I know you like Chicago.
JP: How did you know that?

GM: I did some research.
JP: I do like Chicago. I guess I'm a huge fan of what the world has decided to call corporate rock. You know, I like Journey and Stix and REO Speedwagon. I also like The Cure. I like anything that was really recorded before 1990, maybe.

GM: Sure, when we were growing up. How old are you?
JP: How old are you, Guy?

GM: I'm 46.
JP: Oh, I'm 42.

GM: There's something about the music of your youth, right?
JP: Certainly. It sticks with you. You hear the song and it brings back those great memories. And I think music between 1992 and 2002 just is horrible. So even if you want to make fun of Loverboy, I'll take Loverboy over some bad grunge band any day.

GM: I don't know if I'm with you on that one, Jimmy.
JP: You're from Canada; you should be more respectful of Loverboy.

GM: Not at all! And they're from Vancouver, too.
JP: How dare you not support your local boys!

GM: My local lover boys... Hey, I've been a fan of yours for many years. Even before National Lampoon's Funny Money, which I was also a fan of.
JP: Wow, that makes seven of you, I think. Thank you, I appreciate that.

GM: And last year I saw you at our festival and you were one of my highlights.
JP: Oh, wow, you're very kind.

GM: Are you any relation to Don Pardo?
JP: I am not and usually I would hang up the phone. But since you're from out of the country, I will let you have the one-time asking.

GM: I take it you get asked all the time.
JP: I get asked about 500 times a day.

GM: Interesting. Because I'd never heard the answer, even in my extensive research. It never came up.
JP: Well, I think it's on my Wikipedia page. Somebody has finally put on there that I'm not related to him.

GM: It's not a common name, though, is it?
JP: No. And that's the weird part. It's not a common name and, for all practical purposes, he and I are in the same business. So I could see why people would think it. But sadly I am not related to him.

GM: Everyone asks me if I'm related to Elle Macpherson, too.
JP: Is your last name MacPherson?

GM: Yes.
JP: You know what I thought? I thought it was just Pherson. Like Guy Pherson. So I was thinking why would they even ask you that?

"They're taking my job and I'm going to have to whack Howie Mandel in the back
of the head with a 2 x 4." – Jimmy Pardo

GM: You've said if you want to do anything in Hollywood, you've got to do it yourself. It wasn't original to you, but you've taken it to heart.
JP: I do the live game shows and talk shows at the UCB Theater. And my podcast. Everyone told me you can't make money on the internet and I'm proving that wrong with my podcast.

GM: Are you making good money with the podcast?
JP: Yeah. In fairness to my cohost, I can't give specifics, but – and please know that I'm not bragging when I say this – but we're making more than people make at jobs. Some people would love to make what we're making from the podcast for a living.

GM: And that just comes from subscribers?
JP: That's it. Very rarely will I say nice things about myself because that'll only lead to self-esteem, but the podcast is something I'm really proud of and I think I'm putting out a great product. They pay less than a dollar a week to listen to it. I'm giving them more than that every week, as far as I'm concerned.

GM: I do a podcast, too, that nobody listens to. And they don't pay for it, either.
JP: Then it sounds like it's horrible. I'm going to give up listening to podcasts so I don't risk listening to your podcast.

GM: (laughs) You're the perfect host for a talk show, I would think. I haven't seen your live version, but I've seen you host Match Game and Funny Money and I've seen your standup where you're interacting with the audience.
JP: I appreciate you saying that. The latest thing that I'm doing here in L.A. is I'm doing You Bet Your Life live.

GM: The Groucho Marx game show.
JP: Yeah. For years people have described me as a new Don Rickles. I don't know if I'm that much of an insult comic as much as I am just a guy that interacts with the audience and tries to have fun with them. Somebody, six months to a year ago, said, "You know, you're more like Groucho than Rickles." And Groucho's one of my idols, as well as Don Rickles. And I was like, "You know what I gotta do? I gotta do You Bet Your Life! That is the perfect show for what I do." And boy was I right. We've done it twice now and people are just loving this thing.

GM: You going to bring it up here some time?
JP: Maybe next year if it continues going the way it is. It really lets me do what I do best, which is interview people and have fun with people and then a little bit of a game element to it as well.

GM: Just a little. That show was mostly conversation, wasn't it?
JP: All conversation. You hated when the game showed up because it could be really boring. So hopefully in my version even the game is a lot more fun. But I think I found something that hopefully I can do for a while here because I'm really enjoying it.

GM: These days, game shows are all over the place and they seem to be all hosted by comics.
JP: Yeah, well, sadly famous comics. I mean sadly for me, not for the world – they get to enjoy those people's talents. But they're taking my job and I'm going to have to whack Howie Mandel in the back of the head with a 2 x 4.

GM: Oh, would you?!
JP: Yeah, my pleasure.

GM: Another Canadian I'm not proud of.
JP: What about Bryan Adams?

GM: No, no, no. And I think he lives somewhere near me.
JP: What are you mad at Bryan Adams for?!

GM: He's horrible!
JP: Oh, that's not fair. He's not horrible. He has about half a dozen great songs.

GM: Really.
JP: I think so. I think once he took his pussy pill in 1992 and started doing all those soundtrack songs he became a horrible, horrible man but his first few albums were pretty good.

GM: If you say so. Now, are you in line once Jimmy Fallon falls on his face in late night?
JP: Wouldn't that be nice?

GM: Because he will.
JP: And I think here's why he will. Not because he's not talented. I'm not saying he is or isn't. That's not my place. I don't understand why networks keep giving quote-unquote famous people talk shows. History's proven that... Johnny Carson, Conan O'Brien, to a lesser extent Letterman even though people knew him from The Tonight Show, they weren't all household names. And they became these great talk show hosts that people wanted to watch. They kept trying to give [people like] Meagan Mullaly a talk show and all these other people.

GM: Chevy Chase.
JP: Chevy Chase. Nobody wants to watch the famous person talk to other famous people.

GM: Except for Ellen, who I guess would be an exception.
JP: Yeah, but doesn't she play into a whole different market? She plays that afternoon housewife sort of thing. If she tried to do late night, I think she would have failed quickly.

GM: Probably.
JP: I don't know if that's true.

GM: Were you in line at all for that when they were searching for a host? Did you put your name in for consideration?
JP: I put my name in very heavily when Kilborne was leaving, before they got Ferguson. And I think I was being considered about as long as they said, "What about Jimmy Pardo?" And by the time they got to the end of my name, they were already done considering me. But I at least felt like I was at least thought of for about ten seconds, and that made me feel good. This thing is such a Lorne Michaels production, I don't really think anybody had a shot other than who Lorne wanted. So I can't really answer that but boy would I certainly love the shot.

GM: Yeah. On late night you would have been perfect. One of these days, Jimmy.
JP: Oh, you're a good man, Guy.

GM: I grew up watching Match Game, as I'm sure you did. I loved that show. And it still holds up.
JP: I agree. I love watching it. We don't really do the show live down here anymore. In fact, Vancouver's going to be maybe our last two times we do it. But I had to watch all the old ones to get the questions and do all that stuff. So I watched them like crazy and I love them.

GM: Was it your idea for the live show? And when did you start it?
JP: It was actually Scott Aukerman's idea. He came to me and said, "Hey, what do you think about doing a live Match Game? You host it. I'll be on the panel. We'll also have your wife, Danielle, on the panel and Paul F. Tompkins. And we'll be the three regulars and we'll book three other people every month." And we did it in, I think, October either two or three years ago and from the very first one people just went crazy for it.

GM: People have great feelings towards it. And you guys do a really good job with it, too.
JP: Thank you. I think the trick there was to not do it as a parody. Just play the game and the funny will come out of the fact that we're playing this game and doing it in a 2002 quote-unquote alternative comedy style using our personalities and making it work in this day and age without trying to be doing characters from the '70s. None of that would work, in my opinion. So I think that's why it worked.

GM: And also having panelists that know each other and can laugh and joke with each other or make fun of each other.
JP: Guy, that is 100 percent what made it work. Every time they tried to bring Match Game back on TV, they put six people on the stage and then they tried to recreate or force this chemistry that doesn't exist. And it just doesn't work. Whereas in the UCB version or the one that we bring up to Vancouver, we all know each other. And we're able to laugh at each other. And if somebody tells you your answer sucks, you're able to laugh about it as opposed to going, "Why is Jm J. Bullock telling me I'm not funny?"

GM: There's a blast from the past.
JP: I'm more than happy to use him.

GM: Did you have to get rights for the show? Because you use the theme music. And also You Bet Your Life.
JP: You Bet Your Life I'm not using the theme music. You Bet Your Life will be an easier transformation if I need to stop doing it because you can't really copyright a guy talking to other people and asking questions. Match Game itself? That's one of the reasons we stopped doing it. We've kind of been asked to stop doing it.

GM: (laughs) You've been requested.
JP: Yeah. Not with a heavy hand. But they just shot a pilot to do a new one and we thought it was also a good time to stop doing it. Like I say, I think that Vancouver may be our swan song unless something changes and we bring it back.

GM: You guys have Marcia Wallace on. She was on the original.
JP: She was. She was always in that last seat. It was either her or Fanny Flag who would always alternate in that last seat.

GM: They had to have a red head.
JP: You're right. A red head with large breasts. I think somebody came to see our version of it and contacted Marcia and said, "Hey, they're doing this live version of the Match Game. You should do it." And boy is she great. She fits right in with these young 25-year-old comics. She's sharp, she's funny and she brings a little bit of history to the game. She's just a joy to be around.

GM: That's great. Because it's all about fitting in, as we were just talking about.
JP: Right. And she does. She fits in. She's not afraid to go a little blue if she needs to. In fact, the first thing that she said was... I said, "What was it like being on the show?" She said, "Let me just tell you, Gene Rayburn got a lot of pussy." Right there it's like holy mackerel, this woman is going to have fun! She's been great. She's probably done it a half a dozen times. And I'm glad that she's doing it up in Vancouver.

GM: Have you had any other originals on?
JP: We had Bart Braverman. You would recognize his face more than his name. He was on the TV show Vegas.

GM: Ah. With Robert Urich.
JP: Yeah, yeah. He did a bunch of Love Boats. And again, if you saw his face you'd remember him. And then we had Edie McClurg on once as well.

GM: Scott Thompson must have been fantastic because he's one of the best talk show guests. He just says anything.
JP: I love him. I am such a fan of Scott Thompson.

GM: See, I like a Canadian right there.
JP: Finally we found one that you like. But he's not a musician. So maybe that's why you like him. Scott's terrific. I ran into him at a party and I say, "Hey, we do this Match Game. Do you want to do it?" And I wasn't even done with the sentence and he's like, "Yeah!" He's one of the people that was a favourite on the show.

GM: Who are you going to have on up here, do you know yet?
JP: I think it's Janeane Garofalo, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, Brian Posehn, Scott Aukerman. Just the big names from the scene that are a part of this.

GM: It's something to see. And I'm going to see both of them again.
JP: Well, I appreciate that. Did you introduce yourself last time?

GM: No, I didn't.
JP: Please do so this time.

GM: I will. I'll be around all weekend. Are you going to be doing any standup?
JP: I'm supposed to be doing a Todd Glass show at some point.

GM: The 30-seat intimate show.
JP: I think that'll be a lot of fun.

GM: It will be, but if they don't sell out that'll be really bad.
JP: You know what's funny? We did it last year at some rock venue, Todd's Intimate Evening of Comedy, and I think there were twelve people there. Boy, was that uncomfortable. You gotta try to convince Todd it's not him. But hopefully we'll fill those 30 seats.

GM: I look forward to it. And I apologize for asking the Don Pardo question.
JP: No, no.

GM: You know what? It wasn't even in my notes. I was just telling a friend I'd be talking to you and asked if he had any good questions for you, and that's what he gave me. So I'll give him hell.
JP: Fair enough, give it right back to him.

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