John Pinette's comedy is organic. His vegetables are not.

He perfected that joke during a recent phone interview. Earlier that day, he worked on promos for his June 29 Comedy Central Summer Stage show in Central Park with fellow comedian Jim Gaffigan.

A month after that show, Pinette's new comedy special, "Still Hungry," airs.

"I have not looked at it," Pinette admitted. "I'm the kind of guy who will stand in another room and have his manager tell him how it went."

In June, Pinette shared his jokes with local fans at the Strand-Capitol Performing Art Center.

Pinette said he's been on the road for 26 years - almost half his life. Recently, his promoter has booked him gigs at historic theaters across the country. York's Strand - built in 1925 for vaudeville and silent movies - fits the bill.

When Pinette is not on the road, he calls Delaware County home and keeps a condo in Los Angeles. But he said he was lucky enough to grow up near Boston, which has a robust comedy scene.

He decided he wanted to make people laugh after watching Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball and Jonathan Winters. His family and friends figured out Pinette's eventual career path when he was in high school.

Pinette said that in other cities, veteran comedians book most shows. But Boston's scene allowed fledgling funnymen like him to get ample stage time. That experience was crucial, Pinette said, because it made him realize how important writing was to a good stand-up routine.

He has several comedy specials and recordings under his belt including "I'm Starvin' " and "Show Me The Buffet" - the precursors for his latest effort, "Still Hungry."

The title is a double entendre, Pinette said.

"Looking back, (I've) been doing comedy a long time," he said. "I have more of a passion for it now than I ever had."

Spending 40 weeks traveling to gigs turned into a rut for Pinette. Then, about five years ago, he took time off to play Edna Turnblad in the Broadway musical "Hairspray."

"When I came back (to comedy), I had a new appreciation for it," he said.

Pinette has all of his shows taped and transcribed, so he can study them and see what material gets a reaction from the audience. He mainly writes ideas down and fleshes them out on stage.

"There is something funny and scary about it," he said. He can name shows he'll never forget. He can name other performances he wishes he would.

He is quick to praise other comics who he thinks have mastered the craft, including Dave Attell, Louis C.K., Brian Regan and Kathleen Madigan. Of course, Pinette added, the success of a show depends on the audience and venue.

The toughest times to perform, Pinette joked, would be a Monday night charity show - the audience has missed their favorite TV shows - and a Friday second show - the audience has had 14 margaritas and a nacho.

"I . . . have done the work to be confident," he said. "If you are cocky on stage, the universe will keep you in line."

One topic that seems to strike a chord with most audiences is food. Pinette said Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is on his hit parade.

"If they find a vegetable, they put it into a pie," he said with a laugh.

He said he enjoys a good chicken potpie or chicken fricassee. But his favorite meal might come from a Chicago hot-dog stand.

"That's a favorite city of mine," he said. "I take it Chicago style - mustard, relish, no onion, tomatoes and some celery salt."

- Erin McCracken, FlipSide staff


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