Greek Canadian Angelo Tsarouchas is back in Australia this May bringing his new comedy show “Skits and Wits” to Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth.

And while most Greeks are winding down after Easter, the comedian from LA is here to lift spirits and catch everyone up on what’s happened since his last visit.

“Think of me as the long-lost cousin who came back from God knows where, and now he’s going to update you on what’s been happening in his life. And I think I have this nice love affair with Australians, the Greek Australians, because I think they see me like that,” said Tsarouchas to Neos Kosmos.

After performing two successful shows in Melbourne (May 9), one of which was sold out, he moved on to Sydney (May 10), and is now gearing up for his final show in Perth on May 17.

Having visited Australia about six or seven times, he said there are worse things to worry about than the country’s reputation for predatory animals.

“There’s a lot of things that can kill you in Australia, but I’ve been married twice, so if I survived that…”

“Think of me as the long-lost cousin who came back from God knows where, and now it’s going to update you on what’s been happening in his life. And I think I have this nice love affair with Australians, the Greek Australians, because I think they see me like that,” said Angelo Tsarouchas to Neos Kosmos

While on a ship, performing shows on a cruise from LA to Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico, Tsarouchas talked about the pros and cons of social media, and how it has become a platform for comedy, creating its own form of entertainment.

The power of social media

“Social media is good because it connects you to the whole world. It’s also bad because it connects you to the whole world.”

But the world of digital networking is more than just a way to connect with others.

It has also become a space for funny sketches, and videos turning it into an “online” stage for comedy.

The Greek Canadian comedian has also tried his hand at social media entertainment, with some of his videos getting over half a billion views.

But one of his videos caused confusion among food lovers and even got him a message from Taco Bell America.

“So, this year Cinco de Mayo (a Mexican holiday) and Greek Easter are on the 5th of May,” he explained.

Tsarouchas went to Taco Bell and posted a video about having “a Sinco de Mayo Christos Anesti burrito,” filled with carnitas, spinach, feta, and tzatziki.

“Someone at Taco Bell America sent me a message and said ‘hey is this a regional thing? Because we’re getting people asking us where they can buy this? I said I did it as a joke.”

“I find it interesting the power of social media. I was doing it as a joke and people were like, ‘where can we buy this?'”

Tsarouchas remembers a time he posted a simple poll question on social media:

“Who has a better gyro. Chicago or New York. That’s all I asked.”

He said “2,000 comments later, from ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about, Melbourne’s better’ to ‘this soccer teams sucks or Greeks and Canada are idiots,'” he still hadn’t got an answer.

“The last thing I wrote, was ‘so is it Chicago?’ Like which one is it?” he said, still wondering.

The impact of COVID

Tsarouchas observed how Covid changed our interactions and daily life, from “customer service” and cashless stores, to the challenge of families forced to quarantine together.

He recalls a time when he debated whether to pay with a card or cash.

“They’re like ‘What do you mean you have cash?’ It’s cash! I’m Greek. We use cash. How am I going to bribe somebody if I have no cash?”

During the pandemic he went to Santorini with his wife and daughter, to film for Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

“Going to Greece during COVID was hilarious.”

He said he flew to Greece during peak season and back for a price so low it wouldn’t even cover a trip from LA to New York.

“So, I said, four of us went three came back, big deal.”

He realised that although Greeks “were very aware of Covid, their approach to it was completely different from anybody else’s perspective.”

“We went to this taverna (in Greece) and the guy said, ‘we don’t have Covid here, it’s just everyone else that has it.”

“It’s amazing how they can compartmentalise it…you know, there, at this taverna, they don’t have it (Covid)…that attitude I thought was so funny to me, and my wife goes, ‘do you think he’s telling the truth? He sounds confident.”

“One thing we all starve for is ‘parea.'”

Despite travelling to Australia on Easter Sunday, he still planned to celebrate with his family before leaving that night.

“I can’t bring my candle on the airplane, but can you imagine a 30,000 feet over the Pacific crisis… they’re gonna arrest me when I get to Australia.”

Greek Canadian Angelo Tsarouchas is back in Australia this May bringing his new comedy show “Skits and Wits” to Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth. Photo: Supplied

Tsarouchas is excited to have a special guest at his Sydney show: Vasiliki, who is 100 years old.

“Last time I was there, she was 97 and her granddaughter called me and said my great grandmother is coming.”

“My friend said, ‘those Greeks find you, they want to meet you.”

“Because the one thing we all starve for is ‘parea.'”

He recalls a time when he was on his honeymoon with his wife in Naxos.

A guy was arguing with other shop owners about the fact that the mayor walked past his taverna and didn’t say ‘good morning.’

“My wife is looking at me and she’s like ‘what’s going on’ I go ‘they need to vent out why the mayor of Naxos ignored them. When that’s done, then we’ll get service.”

As soon as the guy came over to their table, Tsarouchas asked “is that what the mayor did?”

“He went on for 15 minutes…My wife said, ‘he doesn’t even know you.'”

Tsarouchas responded “doesn’t need to. I asked him one thing in Greek. That’s all it takes.”

“I find Greeks can pick up conversations anywhere on the planet…I’ve been in so many middle conversations, I shouldn’t be in.”

“I think my next special should be called no introduction needed.”

“Because of technology, we can connect better now.”

Tsarouchas said the internet has helped Greeks and Greeks from Diaspora understand “each other better.”

“They (Greeks) realise now that you know, we’re basically their special needs relatives that visit them every year.”

“Because of technology, we can connect better now.”

Being part of social media did not just expand Tsarouchas’s comedic horizons.

It also led in collaborations, bringing content creator Arianna Papalexopoulos from the online world to performing on stage with him.

“I just brought her on tour with me, we did nine cities together. She’s awesome.”

Tsarouchas said “it’s great” to see comedy spreading on social media, like Australian comedy trio Sooshi Mango, or other funny talents, gaining popularity with their skit videos.

“I think it’s good as long we don’t oversaturate it.”

He said there is a “fine line” between live stand-up comedy and online skits.

“Doing that is great and stand up still is something you need to get on stage and do it live…. it’s two different things, but they’re coming together.”

You can’t win with family

There’s one thing that is “always involved” in Tsarouchas’s life and comedy: family.

“Just when I thought there was nothing there…new stuff happens.”

He remembers when his aunt from Greece called his mother to tell her that her son’s comedy was on a Greek channel.

“I’ve done showtime specials, Netflix, CBC…If you’re featured on Greek television, you’ve made it for the Greeks.”

But the news didn’t reach his mother the way she wanted.

“So, my mum is calling me, she goes “your theia (aunt) called from Greece she said you’re on television there. Why didn’t you tell me? Do I have to find out from your theia?”

Tsarouchas tried to convince his mother he didn’t know anything about it.

Her response was: “You should have told your mother. I was supposed to tell her (aunt). ”

His brother’s reaction was, “As if you didn’t know…”

“You don’t win with the family.”

Greeks are everywhere

After touring to many places worldwide he can confirm one thing: Greeks are everywhere.

While in South Africa for the Cape Town Comedy Festival with Australian comedian and actor Jim Jefferies, and South African comedian Trevor Noah, he did a charity show to help restore a damaged Greek church.

He said after visiting Melbourne for the first time he “fell in love with it right away.”

“Let me put it this way. If I took you to Canada and showed, you our community there… And take the same scenario, put it in Australia for the exception of the accents which are different when we speak English, everything (else) is exactly the same.”

“Wherever Greeks go in the world, if you have ‘parea’ (good company) you have a good time.”

Tsarouchas began, “You could be in Alaska…” and while most would think this was another one of his jokes, the story that followed proved it was more than just a figure of speech.

“I was walking down the street in Anchorage Alaska. These people come out of the restaurant (and say) ‘Tsaroucha what are you doing here?’ Come in the restaurant.’ These were Greeks. The great grandfather had a restaurant in Anchorage.”

He remembers another time, being in Dawson City, at the Canadian territory of Yukon.

“I see one restaurant, ‘George’s restaurant.’ I told the guys ‘How much you want to bet, that’s Greek.”

Tsarouchas won that bet.

He said George, the owner of the restaurant, started in Vancouver and ended up finding a job, working his way across Canada to the Yukon territories, near the Arctic Circle.

There, he found an abandoned restaurant and saw an opportunity.

“He said to me before I left, ‘Do me a favour. Don’t tell anybody I’m here because they (Greeks) are going to want to come.”

“It’s unbelievable…I’m fascinated, but I’m never surprised.”

“Social media is good because it connects you to the whole world. It’s also bad because it connects you to the whole world” said Angelo Tsarouchas to Neos Kosmos. Photo: Supplied

“Back to Sparta”

In 2015, he performed a sold-out comedy show at Michael Cacoyannis Foundation theatre in Athens for a documentary series called “Back to Sparta.”

It was a tribute to his father, who told Tsarouchas ‘you’ve been everywhere in the world but Greece,’ before he died.

He said all the money went to the Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Development Fund at the Cacoyannis Foundation.

As for the reaction he got from the Greek audience?

“They loved it…I really I wish my dad was alive now to see that.”

With his mother from Lesvos and his father from Sparta, Tsarouchas embodies the best of “two different worlds.”

He credits his mother for his “funny, happy” side and his father for instilling a strong work ethic and the Spartan mentality of “if we don’t understand something, we kill it.”

Tsarouchas said – and many Greeks of Diaspora might agree – that learning about Greece’s history was non-negotiable in a traditional Greek household.

“Doesn’t matter what part of Greece you’re from, if it’s historical and important, you’re gonna know about it, and you’re gonna tell your kids and your kids are gonna tell their kids, because that’s just the way it is for Greeks.”

Comedy’s healing touch

Besides making people laugh, Tsarouchas finds comedy rewarding in other ways too.

“One lady said to me ‘I haven’t had a smile on my face for a few years. I lost my husband, and I’ve been in depression, and my sister sent me one of your clips’ and she goes, ‘you made me laugh and I hadn’t laughed in so long.”

“It’s funny how comedy can touch people…I think if you can reach out to them. with comedy, then that’s awesome.”

Greek culture always dominates

Tsarouchas said while his daughter comes from two strong cultures, Armenian and Greek, “for some reason, whoever mixes in with the Greeks, they lose.”

“The Greek one always dominates, male or female.”

The Greek Canadian comedian said, “Food, music, and arts are vital for any society, especially ours,” and had one request for all Greek grandmothers and mothers out there:

“Can you accurately give us the fucking recipe?”

“I think it’s an epidemic. They don’t want to give you the right recipe. They leave something out of it, so you know, just so you make sure you don’t make it better than them.”

Besides his successful comedy tours and appearances on TV shows like “Mad Men,” “Sullivan and Son,” and “Blue Mountain State,” as well as touring with Vince Vaughn’s “Wild West Comedy Show,” there’s one dream he hopes to achieve in his career.

“There’s a movie idea I want to do, and I want to go back to Greece and make it. I think that would be a signature mark.”