Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 19, 2012)
When prospective authors ask for advice, they’re told to write what they know. The same holds true for comedians, as they usually deliver material that seems true to them.
This means that some comedians run the risk of becoming one-note, though, and given the titles of John Pinette’s projects, I wondered if that was true for his routine. Given that the plus-size comic produced products called Show Me the Buffet and I’m Starvin’, I got the impression his act would be all about food and obesity without much else.
Nonetheless, when 2011’s Still Hungry showed up on my door, I figured I’d give Pinette a shot. Filmed in Chicago, Pinette does often cover food and his weight/health, but he delves into other subjects as well. Pinette chats about the stresses of the modern shopping experience and traveling, visiting Canada and Scotland, and some other areas.
While it’d be refreshing to see a comic of Pinette’s build avoid the obvious, I suppose that’s unrealistic. If you weigh 300 pounds – or however much the ample Pinette weighs – people expect you to make comments that relate to your size. Don’t like it? Lose weight, I guess.
So Pinette’s girth locks him into a certain style, though he doesn’t stick with that subject as much as expected. In truth, Pinette doesn’t riff on his weight all that often. Food-related jokes dominate the piece, but Pinette’s own size often remains tangential.
This means that rather than joke about his weight and connected travails, Pinette mostly offers observational humor that deals with food and other aspects of society. Perhaps because he realizes it’s expected, Pinette dispenses with most of the food/weight gags during the first part of the show. While he does spend a lot of time with those subjects, Pinette gets them out of the way and is able to broaden his horizons.
I prefer the parts of the routine that veer away from food. Maybe because he’s had to deal with them for so long, those elements seem a bit stale and uninspired. Granted, Pinette gives them a modern day twist, as he cracks on TV food-related reality shows, but I still get the impression Pinette really wishes he could dispense with the expected food material altogether.
Pinette does seem to brighten up when he shifts to other topics, and those bits work the best. He touches on more universal subjects like the woes of travel, and he does so pretty well. Pinette picks out the common currency that we all experience and makes some deft observations.
I must admit I’m not wild about Pinette’s performance style, though. He shouts many of his lines and just seems way too hyper. It feels like a gimmick and an attempt to generate artificial catchphrases that may bury the cleverness of the material.
Nonetheless, Pinette does demonstrate some effective gags in Still Hungry. I can’t say his routine had me in stitches, but the show moved pretty well and offered a reasonable amount of amusing material.