Sunday, April 6, 2014

Out of the Line

"People stare at McDonald's menus. They have pictures of the food - just point!" John Pinette

Actor/comedian John Pinette passed away from apparent natural causes today at the age of 50.

His bio lists a number of credits - an episode of Seinfeld, the Broadway play Hairspray (he played a woman) and other lesser roles. He was a regular guest on The Tonight Show.

His forte was stand up...a particular brand of stand up. He poked fun at a lot of things, including standing in lines, going on diets ("salad isn't food, salad comes before the food") and the insults he had to endure from buffet restaurant owners when he "bellied" up to the displays. When the Greer family searchs for just the right bit of gentle sarcasm, we whistle up a Pinette video on YouTube.

He tells the story of going to a Dairy Queen in Tempe for a milkshake when it was a hundred and ten degrees. "When it's a hundred and ten YOU GET A MILKSHAKE!" he said. "I think it says that in the Weight Watcher's manual." The guy in front of him asks "How big is a small?" Pinette, of course, is incensed. "It's small. The mediums are medium, the larges are large. If you gotta ask how small a small is you're not hungry enough, come back later. Get out of the line!"

My wife and I saw him at a benefit several years ago. He looked tired, his face drawn, his usually commanding voice thin. Yet, he put on a show, delivering many of his greatest hits ("Oh, good, she has coupons.... Bitch"). After the show, in line at the valet parking window, I stood behind a middle-aged woman. She was spectacularly dressed - evening gown, tasteful jewelry, beautifully done hair. She turned to the gent next to her (gray suit, highly-polished shoes) and says "The salmon was pretty good, but the steak...ugh, you coulda used it as a HOCKEY PUCK."

John Pinette's humor was that infectious.


  1. He'll definitely live on in the Greer Family forever. He was just our brand of humor.

  2. Totally. I got a great buy on...bathroom tissue, only to get it home and discover it was one ply. Pat says "We've been really broke but...honey?" And no one will get this unless they've seen the routine!

    1. He took things often taken for granted and made them so darn funny!

    2. Hahaha!! He had an amazing eye for how mundane moments contained little bits of humor.

  3. So true. We are constantly yelling at people to "GET OUT OF THE LINE!!!"

  4. I was standing behind one of my work partners, getting coffee and - you guessed it - he says "How small is a small?" There really wasn't anything else to say but the Dairy Queen story. "It's small...."