The Washington Post

Comedian John Pinette dies at 50, months after telling fans he was ‘physically spent’

John Pinette (Lucas Jackson//Reuters)

Comedian John Pinette, who famously appeared in the “Seinfeld” series finale, died over the weekend in Pittsburgh at age 50, just three months after he told fans that he was postponing his national stand-up tour because of health problems.

The medical examiner ruled the death as a result of natural causes, as Pinette suffered a pulmonary embolism.

Pinette told his Twitter followers earlier this year that he was “physically spent” after losing a lot of weight and undergoing some small surgeries, and would have to take a break from work. “I didn’t give myself enough time to heal this past fall and it has caught up to me,” he wrote. “But I’m on the mend and I promise to hit the stage as soon as humanly possible.”


While Pinette was known for poking fun at his weight issues in stand-up specials over the last two decades (“Still Hungry,” “Show Me the Buffet”), he was also famous for his brief role in the “Seinfeld” series finale. His character was carjacked as Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer just laughed, videotaped the incident, and made fat jokes. A few minutes later, the gang was arrested for failing to help a fellow citizen in danger under the “Good Samaritan Law” and hauled off to jail.

John Pinette (left) and Keala Settle in "Hairspray" (Chris Bennion) John Pinette (left) and Keala Settle in “Hairspray” (Chris Bennion)

In addition to his extensive touring, Pinette appeared in many TV shows and movies, including “The Punisher” in 2004, and starred as Edna Turnblad in a touring production of “Hairspray” (the same role John Travolta had in the movie).

Here he is during an appearance on “The View,” where the hosts dubbed him as “one of the funniest comedians working today.”

Fellow comedians and actors paid tribute on Twitter:







Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for the Post. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyYahr.

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