For many of us, the day after Thanksgiving conjures up leftovers, shopping and a return to normalcy. But for about 100 people who sat in Los Angeles' Acme Comedy Theater overnight on November 26th, in addition thousands more tuned in on Ustream, that Friday night meant something more this year: for them, it was a chance to see 12 straight hours of some of the country's funniest comedians riffing with each other in the name of raising money for charity.
Last year, Pardo took up an unprecedented challenge: to stay up all night broadcasting a marathon streaming show, or a "Pardcast-a-thon," to raise money for the charity The Smile Train. The night was successful enough for Pardo and his crew, which currently consists of producer/foil Matt Belknap, cameraman Eliot Hochberg, intern Dan Katz, and frequent guest Pat Francis, to perform another marathon show this year.
At last year's Pardcast-a-thon, viewers donated over $21,000 for the charity, which raises money to pay for surgeries to correct cleft palates on children in developing countries. This year, they raised over $26,000 the night of the show, and over $29,000 at the time of this writing. Sales of the event's video will surely raise more.
To a casual observer, the idea of listening to anyone do a show on the Internet for twelve straight hours may sound overzealous at best and mundane at worst. But to those familiar with Pardo's comedy, such an ambitious endeavor is a logical, and welcome, expression of the show's style. (Cont. below)
Many comedians utilize audience interaction to some degree in their act, but Pardo is the rare comic who almost exclusively improvises his act onstage. When the medium of podcasting was in its infancy, Pardo and Belknap started "Never Not Funny" to give Pardo a platform beyond live appearances, and it quickly became a revelation that his quick-witted, crackerjack delivery style, often reminiscent of an after-hours slick-haired nightclub comic of yesteryear, is a perfect fit for a chat program - a format that is all but gone as terrestrial radio dies a slow, painful death, rewarding empty, interchangeable on-air personalities over proven talent.
Pardo's charming mix of Woody Allen's self-deprecation and Don Rickles' blustery, impatient bravado, as well as his ability to turn out a sharp one-liner without interrupting a delicate rapport with an audience, makes him an engaging entertainer, even for 12 hours -- a duration that few of his contemporaries could sustain.
The premise of "Never Not Funny" is simple: Every week, Pardo and Belknap chat for 90 minutes with a fellow comedian. Pardo's long relationships within the community of L.A. comedy performers has led to a guest list that has included everyone from Patton Oswalt to Ty Burrell to Conan O'Brien. (Pardo's "day job" is the opening act for "Conan" on TBS, after holding that position at O'Brien's short-lived "Tonight Show.") As Pardo is quick to point out, the guests are booked for sense of humor, not star power. (Cont. below)
WATCH: A preview of the Pardcast-a-thon, including the full lineup.
While the guests typically riff with Pardo and Belknap for the duration of the show, the Pardcast-a-thon gave guests half an hour or so each - at least, they're supposed to. Last year, "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm, who has appeared on "Never Not Funny" twice, hung around the studio after his appearance, and briefly took over hosting duties when Pardo left his seat, much to the amusement of all. Other guests last year included Chris Hardwick, Greg Behrendt, Maria Bamford, and Oscar Nunez, as well as many more ringers familiar to comedy fans.
This year, guest roster was similarly impressive: Andy Richter, Sarah Silverman, Rob Corddry, Kevin Pollack, Paul F. Tompkins, Tom Dreesen, Doug Benson, Danielle Fishel, and about a dozen more guests make appearances throughout the 12-hour show. The broadcast also featured musicians this year: Aimee man crooned the audience with some of her music, and "Conan" trombone player Ritchie "La Bamba" Rosenberg stopped by as well.
The video from the evening's event is available for download on Pardcast.com for $14.99, a portion of which is donated to The Smile Train. It's well worth a purchase - of the 100 audience members present, 90 stayed for the entire 12 hours.
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