Maybe you didn't know his name, and even more likely you don't know his face, but the voice of Don Pardo likely inhabited your world. His clean, ear-grabbing voice has boomed the names of almost every major actor and comedian for decades, as the voice of Saturday Night Live for all but the seventh season. Hearing his voice was a comforting confirmation that it was time for some antics to appear live in New York, and for almost-ready-for-primetime comedians and musicians a sign that they had made it. He passed away Monday at 96.
It's a chicken versus the egg sort of dilemma on whether he fit the gig versus the gig fitting him, many probably not realizing it was one person behind the voice for so many years, but either answer confirms he was perfect for it. Like the loss of Mark Dailey or Don LaFontaine, he created and audible identity that will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace.
SNL wasn't his only performance, however. He was also the original announcer for Jeopardy!, a role he reprised for Weird Al's "I Lost On Jeopardy," a spoof on The Greg Kihn Band's EZ jam "Jeopardy" (it's a testament to Al that nowadays many don't even know it's a parody). While the video has plenty of cameos from ex-host Art Fleming, the usual Dr. Demento and even Greg Kihn himself. But only Pardo appears in the song itself, berating Yankovic for his terrible performance.
"That's right Al, you lost!" pops in Pardo. "And let me tell you what you didn't win, a twenty set volume of the Encyclopedia International, a case of Turtle Wax, and a years supply of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat. But that's not all, you also made yourself look like a jerk in front of millions of people. You brought shame and disgrace to your family name for generations to come. You don't get to come back tomorrow. You don't even get a lousy copy of our home game. You're a complete loser!"
Strangely enough, the video came out when Jeopardy! was off the air, Alex Trebek's marathon run began just three month's after Al's song came out. But it's worth the anachronism for Pardo's hilarious cameo, the best part of an already solid moment of comedy — Leroy Finklestein from Brooklyn, New York, Turtle Wax and all. It's really fucking funny.