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Jimmy Pardo returning to Cedar Rapids with new observations
‘Never Not Funny’ comedian lives in the moment onstage
Jimmy Pardo usually has no idea what he will say when he hits the stage. That’s part of what makes the veteran stand-up comic so entertaining.
Unlike many comics who deliver a set of prepared material, Pardo prefers to wing it.
“Ninety percent of what I do is crowd work,” Pardo, 56, said by phone from his Los Angeles home. “It’s a stream of consciousness. Me talking off the top of my head is what works best. I discovered this years ago before I performed at a club and someone told me that I’m funnier backstage than when I’m onstage. I put it together, since I would be doing jokes onstage and just goofing around backstage, and I made the adjustment.”
He’ll be onstage at the Olympic South Side Theater in Cedar Rapids on Saturday night, March 11, 2023.
If you go
What: Comedian Jimmy Pardo with Fritz Nothnagel opening
Where: Olympic South Side Theater, 1202 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 11; doors open a 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $25 table seat, $50 couch; etix.com/ticket/p/3307865/jimmy-pardo-fairfax-olympic-theater
Artist’s website: jimmypardo.com/
Pardo enjoys having musical accompaniment when he performs, too. Iowa City guitarist Dan Padley and Cedar Rapids drummer Matt Bernemann will play the part of the Jimmy Pardo Orchestra at the Olympic Theater.
“Dan is a fan of my podcast, and he contacted me and told me he lives in Iowa City,” Pardo said. "He said he would love to perform at one of my shows, and Matt was up for it, so they’re like this cool combo.
“Dan has played with Wayne Newton and he’s really great. It’s fun since I can play off of him. He’s a great foil and a great musician. Dan and Matt will add another dimension to my show. I can mess around with them and they can deal with my nonsense.”
Pardo is at his best when he’s living in the moment. The podcast pioneer launched “Never Not Funny” more than 20 years ago.
“Back then it was just me, Ricky Gervais and The Onion who would do podcasts,” he said.
And he’s at his best engaging the crowd.
“It’s so much fun since it’s different every night,” Pardo said. “I love working the audience, but maybe it would be different if I could write a joke like Jerry Seinfeld. I don’t have that skill set, but I can just jump up there and be funny.”
Pardo will arrive in Cedar Rapids with some prepared material.
“I’ll talk about the pandemic and about how I have had a bunch of surgeries recently, and whatever is happening that day in the news,” he said. “I have some things I talk about, but I always stray from that once I settle in.”
Pardo isn't an obnoxious insult comic. The quirky humorist has the charm and quick wit reminiscent of Groucho Marx, who could wring the funny out of people without putting them down.
“I don’t want to be mean when I perform,” he said. “I just want to get to know the audience. There’s nothing to be afraid of when I talk to someone in the crowd.”
Pardo has always been amusing on the talk show circuit, particularly during interviews with Conan O’Brien.
“The great thing about Conan and I is that we have a long relationship together,” Pardo said. “So when I would go on with him, it’s no holds barred and I could bust his you-know-what. I could get away with things, and it made for entertaining television.
The funny repartee between Pardo and O’Brien recalls the hilarious and unpredictable banter between Johnny Carson and Don Rickles on “The Tonight Show.”
“Johnny Carson was good about shining a light on a guest, and Conan is the same way,” Pardo said. “It’s always a win-win when you’re interviewed by someone like that. It’s fun doing talk shows, but what I love is performing live. I like to do things my way.”
It’s not surprising that Pardo and his comedy-writer wife, Danielle Koenig, are the parents of a comic of the next generation, Oliver Pardo.
“We haven’t encouraged Oliver to become a comedian, but he’s probably going to be a comic,” Pardo said. “Oliver is 15. He would have to go out of his way not to be funny. He’s often on my podcast. He’s amusing but it’s not quite his time yet. I still have a couple of years of being the funny man of the family.”