“My name is Angelo Tsarouchas. I’m a Greek stand-up comedian. And I’m proud of it.”
I’m a Canadian, whose parents are Greek living in America, married to an Armenian. There’s comedy right there. That’s the world we live in.
This is how the Funny Greek introduces himself.
The warm-hearted and irreverent comedian is back Down Under following a sold-out run of shows at the Melbourne, Sydney and Perth Comedy Festivals last year.
The LA-based comic premiered his new side-splitting act on Tuesday and tickets for his shows are already selling fast across Australia.
“The first shows went really great. People were very excited as am I to be back to Australia,” Tsarouchas, who arrived with his family, tells Neos Kosmos.
“I have a great love affair happening here. Being in Australia for me is like being back in Canada. Same type of hospitality.”
Due to popular demand, many of his fans did not get a chance to enjoy his act. Tsarouchas has prepared a show which combines old hits and new material in order to keep everyone happy. The famous comic, who headlines festivals all over the world, says the magic recipe for success is to “talk about what you know”.
“Be true to who you are and what you represent. Only then, people can relate and love you.”
Trarouchas first got into comedy in high school, during class. Although he was exceptionally bright he could never concentrate or stop talking to his classmates. One infuriated teacher said to him, “if you have so much to say, Mr Tsarouchas, why don’t you come in front of the class and tell us?”. And so he did, for over half an hour. Instead of getting expelled, Tsarouchas started his own variety show as a student and began working at the local comedy club in Ottawa.
“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do,” he muses, “And that incident made me realise.”
“Patti Smith, who’s been a very dear friend of mine since kindergarten, told me: ‘In our high school yearbook you were the only person who knew what they wanted to do and is doing it.’ “
Growing up in Canada, Tsarouchas learned to love variety shows and looked up to comedians the likes of Richard Prior, Rodney Dangerfield and the iconic Harry Klynn, his personal favourite. Recalling memories from his high school years, he describes himself as a rather loud individual, into noise and crass jokes. When it comes to swearing on stage however, he leaves no room for profanity.
“I swear quite a bit on stage but I believe it’s all about why and how you do it. If you say something just for effect people get offended,” he explains.
“When people come to see my shows they are hearing me say things in the moment that I was experiencing, thinking about them. Even when something is obscene, if it is from a personal point of view and reflects the moment it’s not offensive. It has to serve the purpose of the story, otherwise I don’t see a reason to be vulgar just for the sake of being provocative.”
Tsarouchas’ routine revolves around his ethnic identity regardless of whether he is performing in front of a Greek audience or not. He tours across the globe, headlining festivals in London, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Canada, LA, Greece, Jordan, South Africa, Germany and so on.
“It’s not just ‘my own people’ relating to my stories, so I must be doing something right,” he laughs.
“I’m a Canadian, whose parents are Greek, living in America, married to an Armenian. There’s comedy right there. That’s the world we live in.”
Even though Tsarouchas was asked to change his name countless times – as it’s hard for people to remember and pronounce – he has remained adamant and even made special jokes about it.
“I’m not embarrassed, even though I know a lot of people change their Hellenic names in order to ‘fit in’. That’s my heritage. A good comedian can even turn their weird name into a hit.
“I also never labelled myself ‘Funny Greek’ either,” he stresses. “I didn’t start this moniker, the industry did it for me.”
Angelo Tsarouchas will be performing at the Greek Centre, Parthenon (Cnr Lonsdale & Russell Sts, Melbourne, VIC) until April 17. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.comedyfestival.com.au/ and follow the links.