…this is one way to describe Canadian stand-up comedian .
Writer Anna Cominos caught up with Angelo on his recent Australian Comedy tour and he unpacked his original take on being The Funny Greek.
Talking to Angelo Tsarouchas is like talking to the Buddha of stand-up comedy. His reflections on being funny, being Greek and eating big are thought-provoking.
“More of my life is behind me, than in front of me, so I just want to have a good time, be a good person and a good parent,” confides observational humourist Angelo Tsarouchas. It is obvious from the start of our interview that the 51 year-old international comedian loves the random way his life has unfolded.
Born Evangelos Petros Tsarouchas in Montreal, Canada to Greek migrant parents from Sparta and Dafni, the wisecracking Angelo has used his Greek upbringing to create original material for his comedy shows. Growing up in suburban Ottawa and working in family café businesses, Angelo’s life experiences and even his birth into a Greek family are observed as comically fortunate. In Ottawa he also began his stand–up comedy career, drawing on daily observations, where Tsarouchas began to emerge as an original voice.
He then moved to London for two years where he finessed his craft.
“The Cypriot-Greek community in London are interesting and were really good to me. They are kind and brutally honest at the same time. There is a very large comedy scene in Britain, so I got the opportunity to perform regularly and I really cut my chops there,” describes Tsarouchas.
Big laughs that brew slowly into a bellyache, is how one critic described Canadian comic, Angelos Tsarouchas’ stage presence. Tsarouchas who has travelled the world performing, South Africa, England, America, Canada and Australia, says that the audiences of the Greek diaspora do not differ greatly.
“If it’s funny, it is funny in any language,” he says. The international touring comedian has performed as a special guest on the Russell Peters World Tour and Vince Vaughn‘s Wild West Comedy Show as well as doing his Greek comedy shows.
“I get my socialness, my joy of being around people from my mother, she is originally from Lesvos and she feeds a lot of my perspective. She taught me the meaning of ‘filotimo’ (the virtue of doing good with no expectation of reciprocation). My fearlessness comes from my father. He is from Sparta in the Peloponesse and I recently had the privilege of doing a documentary in Greece called ‘Back to Sparta’. I did a live show in the outstanding Greek World Centre in Pireaus. The producers were expecting several dozen people, as Greece does not have a stand-up comedy scene and I was an unknown but through word-of-mouth it was a sold-out show.”
“I wanted to create a positive insight into contemporary Greece and what is occurring now. After much explaining who we were and that we weren’t there to play the blame-game, I got to interview several Greek politicians and artists including popular satirist Lakis Lazopoulos, who is a smart, intelligent social commentator. Lazopoulos moved me, by highlighting the importance of laughing through painful times and declaring ‘you are one of us!’” confided Tsarouchas.
“While visiting Melbourne, the extended family on my father’s side had a lunch at the renowned café Vanilla and I realised that my Dad’s migrating to Canada was random, he could have as easily got on a boat to Melbourne Australia. My father was in food catering, he came from Sparta so we grew up working around people in hospitality. He began with food trucks and then went into cafes and restaurants. I still remember his hilarious interactions with customers,” he says.
The industrious Angelo goes on to add that he also does a regular podcast, ‘Smoking a John’ where he interviews comedians such as Tom Green, actors and authors. “I do it ‘cause it interests me, I enjoy it.”
Angelo, who is now based in Los Angeles also works as an actor. His credits include Mad Men, Sullivan & Son and Blue Mountain State for television. Tsarouchas has been praised for his performances in films such as The Score, Johny Q, The Recruit, The Prince and Me, Harold and Kumar Go to the White Castle, and Cinderella Man.
Recently Angelo was awarded the Best Actor Award at the London Greek Film Festival for his role as Vinnie De Angelo, in the film ‘Fred and Vinnie’ by Steve Skrovan. The same performance earned him a Best Actor nomination from the Canadian Comedy Awards and in his upcoming web series Spiros Tsar PI, Angelo plays an undercover private investigator. Think of classic ‘70s television, ‘Kojak meets Cannon’ and you have the hilarious web series Spiros Tsar PI. You Tube and check out the trailer.
Once Angelo starts telling stories of his life, his experiences, plus current and future projects, two hours speed past in a flash. It is obvious that he lives and breathes comedy, is enthralled by laughing audiences and delights in being relevant to anyone around him including his audiences.
The New York Times recently remarked of Tsarouchas’ performance, “Somewhere Zeus and Apollo are laughing”. They weren’t joking.
To see Angelos Tsarouchas comedy visit his website: Funnygreek.com