Jimmy Pardo Talks Fake Radio, Comedy Charity and Conan O’Brien

This weekend's Pardcast-A-Thon promises hours of laughs for a good cause.
Jimmy Pardo Talks Fake Radio, Comedy Charity and Conan O’Brien

Jimmy Pardo is the OG comedy podcaster. His Never Not Funny was a mainstay atop the early podcast charts, in part powered by Pardcast-A-Thon, a marathon show he began in the 2000s to benefit Smile Train and their work for kids. This weekend marks the twelfth edition of the comedy fundraiser, promising to add to the $1.5 million and counting he’s raised for the charity. Pardo recently talked with Cracked about fake radio in his dining room, his comedy career with Conan, and how a stunt to publicize his podcast grew into an annual tradition. 

“People call me a pioneer because I was one of the first comedian podcasters. But Todd Glass said it best. I was the first comic that you heard of that had a podcast. It's a perfect way of putting it and then that way, it's on Todd and not on me to be that arrogant.”

“A guy named Matt Belknap was running an alternative comedy website called A Special Thing. He asked me if I would do a podcast and I didn't know what that meant. Oh, what Ricky Gervais is doing? But while Ricky Gervais was doing a podcast, it was his radio show that was released as a podcast. So to me, it still didn't click.” 

I have a history of being late to the dance on everything. I was the last guy on MySpace. I was the last guy on Facebook. It took me forever to get on Twitter. I didn't know what a podcast is, but I'm saying yes.” 

“It was also a way for me to get around a weekly blog because I'm not the best writer. But I'm a great performer. A blog just looked like somebody's diary. It wasn't funny. It wasn't interesting. But I thought if I could do it like a live blog talking, I could be funny and explain my week. And so we sat down at my dining room table.”

Who came to my dining room table? Scott AukermanPaul F. Thompkins, Paul Gilmartin, Mike Siegel, Danielle Koenig, who is my wife.”

“We all were part of that Comedy Death Ray scene. Greg Behrendt and Patton Oswalt, me, Sarah SilvermanTodd GlassDoug Benson, Karen Kilgariff, Blaine Capatch. They were already established, but yet I was breaking them to a bigger audience.”

“Getting promotion for podcasts was really difficult in, you know, 2006. Do you take an ad out in Entertainment Weekly? What can you do to get to get noticed? Then we landed on, ‘Let's do a marathon show.’ Then I could hit the morning radio outlets and promote it and maybe we could build our fan base up that way.”

I had grown up loving the Jerry Lewis telethons. And why, as a kid, am I staying up till 3:00 in the morning to watch Steve and Eydie? It was such a weird thing. As a kid, you don't understand time zones. And so I said let do that. Let's do a telethon. Let's raise money. That'll give us a purpose instead of just being self-indulgent.”

We started in 2009 raising money for Smile Train (a charity that provides free cleft surgeries to children around the world). This will be our twelfth one and we’ve raised more than 1.5 million dollars for Smile Train so far. People always say, congratulations, you guys did a great job. But the fans raised the money. They're the ones that open up their wallet.” 

We've had people on that are no longer with us that were great. Fred Willard was on one year. Super Dave called into the show, which was just surreal. We were on the phone for like 10 minutes, and the bit was that he couldn't hear anything. He was responding to us, but I don't know if he was being real or if it was a Super Dave bit.”

The first year, Jon Hamm stayed til like 4:00 in the morning.” 

Conan O'Brien's been a big supporter. He’s always a blast to have on."

When Conan’s show moved from New York to LA, they needed a new warm-up guy. Andy Richter said the only person he knew who could do 10 minutes to an hour off the top of his head who has the same sensibilities as our show is Jimmy Pardo. And so it's your job if you want it. I was there for seven years.”

“I was a guest like every four months. They would use me to do remotes and segments. The highlight was I got the call one day that Andy Richter had to miss a couple of shows and Conan wanted me to--and these were their words, not mine--fill in as co-host. That phone call knocked me on my ass, man.”

Conan used to make fun of me. Backstage, he would come up to me, ‘Did you do your fake radio show today?’ And now, of course, he’s got one of the biggest podcasts in the world. It is insane the amount of people that used to bust my balls about doing fake radio at my dining room table. Now they all have podcasts.” 

Pardcast-A-Thon 2024 will make you laugh for a good cause on May 25, 2024, from 3 p.m. to midnight PST. Donate at pardcastathon.com or nevernotfunny.com.


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