George Zacharopoulos has been coming to Australia since 2015, sharing his comedy with lovers of laughter across the country.
After missing out on bringing his Greek Comedian of the Year 2020 show to Melbourne due to lockdowns, he’s back ready to share his musings from the last couple of years, with a second new show in tow.
“Each year I do a show called Greek Comedian of the Year, but each year the content is different…In 2020 I went to Adelaide and the Adelaide Advertiser gave me four and a half stars out of five, which was quite impressive because it was my first show and I had just landed from England after a 37 hour trip and I went right onto the stage. With the lockdown I just never had the chance to do it in Melbourne and I thought would be a shame because I’ve also toured it in Europe,” Zacharopoulos told Neos Kosmos.
“In the last two years I had an idea for another show so I thought we can do both.”
In his second show, Honey Badger, the comedian talks about his very honest whirlwind love story, where he takes his audience through his rollercoaster of a relationship, leaving them in both stiches and shock.
This may leave you wondering why the self proclaimed ‘Greek Comedian of the Year’ named his show after an animal that could even scare lions.
“The honey badger is an animal I really admired as a child. It’s resilient, very hard working and stands up to all kinds of predators. So when I met this girl, and she had told me what she had been through, I thought ‘oh my God, you’re the honey badger, you’re the person I’ve been looking forward to meeting all my life’,” he explained.
While the majority of Zacharopoulos’ shows are toured in English, he still performs in Greek when visiting his motherland. His sets are a little less extensive, but pack just as much of a punch to his audiences.
“I know many famous Greek comedians, like Katerina Vrana who’s killing it right now in Greece. Lambros Fisfis, who’s also killing it, and they’ve both come to Australia before and they are selling out huge shows,” he said
“When I go to Greece I perform and I have a 10-minute routine on the mountza…and how foreigners don’t understand how to do it, and it kills every time. In 2020 I went to Greece and I wanted to do some spots but I didn’t want to just use my connections, I wanted to see what I could do starting from the bottom at open mics.”
After spending so much time in the United Kingdom and of course touring with English-speaking shows, Zacharopoulos has become attuned to the difference between Greek and British comedies.
“I think Greek comedy can be a bit more theatrical. So when you play for Greeks, deadpan doesn’t work, they want funny faces, they want movement. Greeks are a bit more exaggerated. More, more is more. I realised there’s taboos in Greece, so there’s things people don’t like talking about. They also don’t understand self-deprecation, it‘s a new concept for Greek people,” he said.
“But they’re also very giving, the Greek audiences. When they laugh, they’re really open hearted, there’s nothing like it. They really give it their all, if you do it right, it’s an absolute joy.”
His own comedy, between the British deadpan and the Greek absurd falls somewhere in between, or is rather a melding of both comedic cultures.
“I’m told I am very expressionist. What I’m told recently is that I look like I’m having fun all the time on stage and I’m always in control. But it depends on what I’m delivering. When I’m telling my stories I’m very animated but when I’m explaining something more of an idea, I can be less animated,” Zacharopoulos said.
“My comedy normally is very silly. Even Honey Badger, it’s silly for 40 minutes then it gets a bit serious for 10 and then it gets silly again.”
It’s become quite apparent as to how British style of comedy has influenced Zacharopoulos’ own work. The Kalamata native has lived in the United Kingdom for 20 years now, after initially moving to Newcastle to study biochemistry. It was however an American comedian who sparked his interest in the field, inspiring him to leave behind his studies and follow a new dream.
“It was 2010, I was watching TV and I saw a news story about a comedian called George Carlin who had passed away. I was thinking ‘who is George Carlin?’ because I didn’t know anything about stand-up comedy. I was in England for 10 years at this point, and I hadn’t heard about it so I decided to search it up. I saw a man talking to an audience of 3000 people and I thought ‘oh, I’d love the attention’,” he said.
You can find George Zacharopoulos performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival between now and 24 April. To get your hands on some tickets to his shows at The Carlton Club visit comedyfestival.com.au and search for George Zacaharopoulos in the search bar.