Growing up Greek in Australia in the sixties, seventies and eighties wasn’t always easy. But according to actor and comedian George Kapiniaris, comedies like Acropolis Now helped to change attitudes towards migrant families as they integrated.
Speaking on the latest episode of the Ouzo Talk Podcast, Kapiniaris, who played ‘Memo’ in the now legendary Australian sit-com, says that the show’s disarming comedy played an equalising role.
“Us Greeks – we used to be the enemy,” says Kapiniaris, who admits to seeing and experiencing some of the difficulties with being accepted as a child of migrants in Australia.
“All of a sudden the ‘Aussies’ were going; "Oh they’re actually nice", or "They’re funny", or "They’re charming characters". It helped."
Born in 1962, Kapiniaris grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond – a place he describes as being “very Greek” – before moving to Doncaster in the early years of high school, only to find that he was the only Greek at the school.
After studying and teaching acting, Kapiniaris, whose family originally hail from Kalamata, began performing on stage, most notably with his future Acropolis Now collaborator, Simon Palomares, first creating the Tiboldi Brothers, before experiencing success with the now seminal stage show, Wogs Out of Work.
It would all lead to the creation of the Acropolis Now sit-com, which ran between 1989 to 1992.
“For me, I was working. But for other people it was like "Finally something we can relate to,”" says Kapiniaris.
“Apparently they were the best shows to go to – from what the fans have been telling me. We even had the staff at Channel 7 come to our show. We had our crews coming, and they’d sit in the back row like it was a sport and they’d be chanting along. If we ever stuffed up, they’d go "Shoot, goal!"”
“If you watch the box-set, in the bloopers you can hear them in the background.”
The now 60-year-old also told Ouzo Talk about the process for writing, rehearsing and recording Acropolis Now, including the tensions that would occur between actors, writers and producers in the background.
For Kapiniaris though, it’s all just been great fun.
“I haven’t done a serious day’s work in my life – like a job. Feel my hands. They’re soft,”
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