Comedy producer John Pinder, who discovered a string of legendary comedians in the Melbourne comedy circuit, has died, aged 70.
“Early this morning John slipped away freed from the suffering and pain his cancer had caused him. He was so peaceful and surrounded by love,” his partner Dasha Ross announced on Facebook.
Pinder opened Australia’s first comedy cabaret venue The Flying Trapeze Café in Melbourne in the early Seventies, before opening The Last Laugh Theatre Restaurant and Zoo. He was the coordinator of the inaugural Melbourne International Comedy Festival, produced works at Edinburgh Fringe, Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Festival of the Arts and supported the fledgling Circus Oz in its infancy.
But it was The Last Laugh that gave prominence to comedians including Wendy Harmer, Mary-Anne Fahey, Ian McFadyen, Peter Moon, Jane Turner, Richard Stubbs who later appeared in The Comedy Company, The Big Gig, Fast Forward and The Late Show.
In The 1990s he moved into television, as a consultant on Steve Vizard’s Tonight Live, later becoming a creative consultant on The Comedy Channel. Pinder was also responsible for bringing The Goodies to Australia in 2005 and co-produced the first live shows of The 3rd Degree, the comedy troupe which went on to become The Ronnie Johns Half Hour.
Earlier this year he featured in the ABC series Stop Laughing …This is Serious.
Susan Provan, Festival Director/CEO of Melbourne International Comedy Festival, told ArtsHub: “Without John Pinder and his pal Roger Evans fearlessly and crazily doing what they did (creating the iconic Last Laugh Theatre Restaurant on Smith St way before Collingwood was cool, and then the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, among many other things), the path for many extraordinary artists would have been unthinkably more difficult. And without them creating the opportunity for Melbourne audiences in particular to develop and stretch their taste in comedy back then, we wouldn’t have the environment that feeds such a huge community now.”