Friday, May 22, 1998 | 10:29 a.m.
If John Pinette goes down in television history as "the fat guy" from "Seinfeld," that's OK by him.
In case you happened to miss the recent finale of the NBC sitcom, the portly Pinette played a carjacking victim whom Jerry Seinfeld and his buddies mocked. They were subsequently arrested under a "good Samaritan" law when they did not rescue him from the crime.
The improvised role was quite a coup for Pinette, who by day -- but mostly by night -- is a stand-up comic. He performs at the Sahara hotel-casino through May 31.
The "Seinfeld" finale was one in a line of sitcoms and films he has appeared in, including "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" and the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Danny DeVito flick "Junior."
It's estimated that more than 70 million viewers tuned into the "Seinfeld" send-off featuring Pinette's scene. "That's when I go, 'Say whatever you want; I'll be the fat guy,' " he says.
His weight, which he cleverly pinpoints as being "somewhere between (that of comic) Louie Anderson and (film star/killer whale) Free Willy," has been the subject of his schtick -- and the butt of his jokes -- for the dozen years he's been performing, much to the dismay of some audience members.
"That's my only nightmare; you get women who go, 'Please don't do that to yourself. Please don't say that to yourself,' " Pinette says. "All I'm really doing is talking about going on diets and ... just about being a big guy.
"Why should that be any different from a comic that says, 'I was an alcoholic,' or, 'I was in a bad relationship'? I want to talk about being a big guy ... it's not a fat joke. It's a joke about living the way you live."
Truth be told, he's not a fan of upsetting or offending his audiences. "That's why I make me (the subject of) a lot of the jokes," he says. "I don't offend me; I forgive me."
Pinette's latest comedy CD, "Show Me the Buffet," features the 34-year-old's commentary about the phenomenon of this self-serve food fixture.
Fear not: The buffet capital of the world, Las Vegas, where Pinette recently purchased a home, was not spared from scrutiny.
In fact, he jokes about his visit to -- and over-indulgence at -- the Sahara's buffet the last time he performed there: "They haven't had me back, surprisingly enough." (Until now, that is.)
By far his favorite smorgasbord, he tells listeners, is the "Wizard of Oz"-themed buffet (which is currently closed for renovation) at the MGM Grand. "My favorite movie and they made it a buffet," he says on the disc, before breaking into an altered version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow":
"Somewhere over the buffet, food piled high; there's a meal I must get to, stop me and you will die."
What would be on the plate if Pinette could build his own buffet? A little bit of everything -- and not a lot of food.
"There's a lot of life out there," he says, and much like a buffet line, "you can grab and move."
Tickets for Pinette's 8:30 p.m. performances are $21.95 and can be purchased by calling the Sahara box office at 737-2515.