Jimmy Pardo: Podcast pioneer

RAGHAV MEHTA | Updated 7/24/2013

Meet comedy podcast vet Jimmy Pardo.

Comedian/podcaster Jimmy Pardo
Photo by Mandee Johnson

Jimmy Pardo had no idea what a podcast was seven years ago — barely anyone did, for that matter. But that didn’t stop the veteran comedian, who’s headlining Acme on Friday and Saturday, from launching his own in the spring of 2006.

“The reason I even did a podcast was, if they ever did catch on, I didn’t want to be the guy who didn’t have one,” Pardo said in a recent phone interview. “I was always the last guy on MySpace, I was always the last guy on Facebook. I still don’t even have a Twitter account.”

Outside of podcasting, Pardo might just be the best standup comic you’ve never heard of. While his award-winning, first-of-its-kind “Never Not Funny” podcast, which he co-hosts with producer Matt Belknap, hasn’t garnered the commercial success that mainstays such as “WTF With Marc Maron” or “Comedy Bang Bang” currently enjoy, it’s built a respectable following in comedy-nerd circles and has featured big-name guests Sarah Silverman, Jon Hamm, Tig Notaro and Zach Galifianakis, among many others. That success has come despite requiring listeners to pay subscription fees, something of rarity in the podcast world.

“I treated it like it was a professional radio show, which is something I’ve always wanted to [do]” Pardo said, stressing his adoration for Twin Cities radio mogul Tom Barnard. “[The podcast] was great fun for a while, and then it started feeling a little sad, in that podcasting wasn’t taking off. After two years I suggested we do a subscription model and said, ‘If people come along, great. And if they don’t, let’s just quit doing this.”

Through the success of “Never Not Funny,” Pardo’s managed to carve out a niche for himself. It’s a move that he says has bolstered his career, not to mention his ticket sales.

“There was a guy who listened to my podcast and wrote his best friend and said, ‘I just discovered the funniest guy in the world,’ and that best friend happened to be my cousin,” Pardo said. “I just think [podcasting] is getting good, smart comedy fans back to the comedy clubs.”

Pardo also currently works as the warm-up act for TBS’ “Conan” and occasionally appears on the show (last week he co-hosted with O’Brien). It’s a job he’s held since Conan’s infamous tiff with NBC executives over the “Tonight Show,” which made massive headlines in 2009.

“When I got the phone call to do this one, my initial instinct was just to say no, but then I realized I’d end up working with Conan O’Brien. And I always dreamed of hosting “The Tonight Show’ and I would’ve been a fool not to have gone to that meeting,” Pardo said. “After being there for 3 minutes I knew I wanted that job.”

On stage, Pardo is an accessible act who isn’t afraid to spend the bulk of his time riffing and improvising with audiences. It’s been the still-sharp comic’s stock-in-trade for years and it’s what he’s best at — he’ll be the first to tell you.

Jimmy Pardo

When: 8 & 10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

Where: Acme Comedy Co., 708 N. 1st St., Mpls.

Tickets: $15, 612-338-6393 or www.acmecomedycompany.com.