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Comic Eddie Pepitone's big heart goes bitter-patter

Comedian Eddie Pepitone, known as
Comedian Eddie Pepitone, known as "The Bitter Buddha," near the NoHo park where he feeds squirrels walnuts and yells at imaginary people.
John Rabe

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Most comics use the F-word in their live acts like it's an article. But when Eddie Pepitone uses it, it comes from the heart, or maybe his ample gut.

The 54-year old actor (Law and Order: Criminal Intent, The Beat, Now and Again) and comedian, who lives in North Hollywood, is finally seeing a glimpse of the fame his friends and colleagues have wished for him for years. He's a regular on the club circuit, gained fame through appearances on Marc Maron's WTF podcast, and is the star of the documentary Eddie Pepitone: The Bitter Buddha, by Steven Feinartz, which is now out on DVD.

I sat on a blanket with him at his favorite park in North Hollywood where he meditates and feeds the squirrels with his wife Karen. "And we're a little pedantic to other people in the park," he says, "because we see them feeding squirrels things like bread and even peanuts, and we're like 'No, no, no! Walnuts are the best for them because the shell works their teeth.' So we've gotten this reputation for being the squirrel pains in the asses."

A minute later, as he's explaining why his reputation for being an angry guy is inaccurate, he breaks off to yell at an imaginary person, "Get the f--- away from that squirrel!" I have no idea what the joggers thought; maybe they're used to him.

Pepitone's comedy stems from what he describes as an ever present feeling of unease, and a deep sensitivity to how horrible the world is for many people. One of his signature bits is to tell how he failed an audition for a laundry softener ad because he kept prefacing the line "Honey, how do you get these shirts so fresh" with variations of, "When the world is falling apart ..."

"I've never been a comedian who can say things like, 'Oh, isn't it crazy where socks go?!' I find it appalling that people want their comedians to be tepid morons." Yes, that means he's not into Seinfeld. "I feel like, hey, Jerry, how about you say something relevant!?"

Listen to our interview for much more of the Bitter Buddha - including his relationship with the famously crazy New York Yankee Joey Pepitone, whose name, in Japan, means "goof off."

If you want  smaller bites, check out Pepitone's Twitter feed: @eddiepepitone.