What would life be like if we spoke our thoughts out loud?
Jimmy Pardo knows. Onstage, he frequently undergoes a bizarre shift from an arrogant moron to an acutely self-conscious, self-doubting boy gone crazy with the microphone. His act is a circular dance, alternately baiting and then berating the audience. He tells (quite funny) jokes and then suddenly undercuts his aggressive comic arrogance with the aforementioned schizophrenic switcheroo.
If all Pardo did to his audience was ridicule them, the bite of his humor would be short lived. But he goes far beyond clever name calling. He likes to hang out with the audience, ask questions, demand answers — and let me tell you, mister, you better have the right answer, or look out. He tells stories and demands we appreciate them. He accuses one guy of not laughing enough ("Don't you hear these other people laughing? Do you think they're wrong?") and then calls another guy a snooty jag-off and tries to persuade another audience member to beat him up.
Pardo exudes a sharp-witted arrogance precariously afloat in a swamp of self-deprecation. He flails his hands emphatically and sputters to accentuate his observations. Initially, I thought Pardo looked like one of the Beavis and Butthead characters. But after the show, I realized his appearance is physically altered by his well-crafted onstage psychosis.
Backstage, his constipated, on-the-verge look is gone, and I'm faced with a delightful, thoughtful man who insists I take the only seat available. Pardo appreciates the Ann Arbor crowd. "This audience is patient," he tells me. "They wait with you, stick around for the silliness. They're respectful."
Well, that's nice of you to notice, Mr. Pardo. But I suspect the truth of the matter is that Ann Arborites appreciate your well-honed talent. That, and lots of Ann Arbor folks are snooty jag-offs, and we would like to beat them up.
Jimmy Pardo returns to the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase Thursday through Saturday, October 2-4.