After 15 Years, Pardcast-A-Thon Hangs Up the Mic

Signing off from 135 hours of life-giving laughs and lifesaving smiles

Matt Belknap, Patton Oswalt, and Jimmy Pardo onstage at Pardcast-A-Thon 2024

Ask any comedian and they’ll tell you: It’s hard work to make people smile. But when you get it right, it’s the best feeling in the world.

Comedian Jimmy Pardo knows this well. He has dedicated his career to making people laugh. After years of grinding it out in clubs, he got his big break as Conan O’Brien’s warm-up act in the late 2000s. Working alongside one of the greats of his generation, rubbing elbows with some of the funniest people alive every day… many other comedians might have focused on parlaying that success into a TV or movie career of their own, but Jimmy decided to take a risk on a new technology. In 2006, before anyone knew what a podcast was, he launched his own, Never Not Funny.

But the problem with venturing out to be a pioneer is that nobody knows where to find you. Back then, when he invited people to be on his show, they would say, “What’s a podcast?” (Today, all of these guests have podcasts of their own.)

Like most problems in life, this one was solved by Parade magazine. Specifically, an ad on the back cover for Smile Train: Jimmy had never seen a cleft before and was astounded at how easy it was to completely transform a child’s life. So he donated. And then he got an idea:

What if, instead of just making people laugh, he could make them smile, too?

The Jerry Lewis telethon was an annual rite for Jimmy as a kid, so he thought he might get ears to his podcast by hosting a yearly Pardcast-A-Thon of his own, to benefit Smile Train.

Jimmy Pardo onstage at the 2010 Pardcast-A-Thon
Jimmy Pardo onstage at the 2010 Pardcast-A-Thon

Like comedy, it was a lot of hard work: He and his team had to find a venue, hire a five-piece band, design a logo, sell tickets, and reach out to enough comedians, musicians, and actors to fill a nine-hour show. But, also like comedy, it was worth it for the smiles.

“At the end, to see that you’ve raised… we just look at each other like, first of all, that was fun; second of all... can you believe what we raised? That part of it is truly a feeling like I’ve never felt before, just... the warmth that went through my body knowing that we could potentially save children’s lives thanks to what Smile Train does,” Jimmy recently told WISH-TV in Indianapolis.

That first Pardcast-A-Thon was in 2009. The good feelings have only gotten better as he’s raised more and more funds every year since to help more and more children in need. Regular guests like Sarah Silverman, Jon Hamm, and Patton Oswald look forward to it each summer; Jimmy just tells them the date and they say, “Great! What time do you want me?”

After 15 years and more than $1.5 million raised, Jimmy came into 2024 knowing this Pardcast-A-Thon would be his last. But if this year was to be the punchline at the end of a long, long setup, he was going to make sure no one ever forgot it.

Jimmy always reaches out personally to book guests, and this year, he pulled out all the stops. The 15th Pardcast-A-Thon featured an all-star lineup of modern comedy, including:

  • Andy Richter
  • Sarah Silverman
  • Todd Glass
  • Jon Cryer
  • Danielle Koenig
  • Paul F. Tompkins
  • Janet Varney
  • Patton Oswalt
  • Carl Tart
  • Rich Sommer
  • John Ross Bowie
  • And many, many more

This year also marks Smile Train’s 25th anniversary, and this February, we sponsored our 2 millionth life-changing cleft surgery.

So what better way to sign off than by announcing that, after taking in $126,570+ that last night, the Pardcast-A-Thon had raised a grand total of nearly $2 million for Smile Train!

2024 Pardcast-A-Thon performers taking a final bow
The final bow at Pardcast-A-Thon 2024

“The only greater joy than working with Jimmy Pardo and the whole team at Never Not Funny for the past 15 years has been seeing the smiles of the thousands of children whose lives they have helped save with free cleft care,” said Troy Reinhart, Smile Train’s SVP of Community and Ambassador Development. “On behalf of everyone at Smile Train and our patients and medical partners around the world, I thank Jimmy and all his wonderful guests for all the laughs, but even more for all the smiles.”

Jimmy and co-host Matt Belknap
Jimmy with his longtime co-host, Matt Belknap

“Thank you so much, everybody, for coming… thank you for supporting, thank you for the generous donations, thank [you to] the guests for coming, but, at the end of the day — I say this in every interview when they say, ‘Boy, that’s great stuff that you’re doing'… it’s really you guys opening up your wallets that make this the success that it is. So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for doing that.”

- Jimmy Pardo, tying the bow on his final Pardcast-A-Thon