Joe Avati is one of Australia’s top comedy exports and is the number one selling bilingual comedian in the world. His massive cult following sees him crisscross the globe performing his unique brand of comedy (in both English and Italian) on both sides of the Atlantic where he sells out shows in the UK, the US and Canada. I had the opportunity to interview Avati on his upcoming show in Vancouver.
My best friend is Sicilian so your material really resonates. Does your family mind that they inspire much of your material or are they supportive?
No, they don’t mind at all. They really love what I do and it’s become such a part of their lives that they are all willing to contribute material. They see it for what it really is – I am not actually making fun of them as much as I am admiring them.
I’m getting married in a month so your YouTube vids around Italian weddings were particularly hilarious. What advice would your Nonna give to a blushing bride?
Always respect your husband and listen to what he says. Well, she didn’t belong to the feminist movement and knowing my Nonna, those would be her exact words.
I used to live in Australia so I love hearing these stories from the perspective of an Aussie. Do you think Canadian Italians are faced with the same challenges?
Exactly the same, hence why they relate to the material so much. The emigration to Canada happened at the same time as it happened in Australia, so we are very similar.
The only Italian phrase I seem to remember is vorrei spogliarti nudo. I’m heading to the island of Capri for my honeymoon – any Italian phrases that I should be practicing?
Well, if you’re going on your honeymoon, then I suggest that there isn’t any other phrase you really need to know.
You’re pretty fit, are you single?
Fit? How do you know I go to the gym? Yes, I am single – have been for almost 5 years now by choice.
If you could pick any city or any theatre to perform in, what would it be?
Well, Vancouver of course. Seriously, though – last time I performed in Vancouver my show almost went for 2 hours because the crowd was getting into the routines so much that the times between routines were extended.
Your Italian accent is spot on. Are you fluent?
I am fluent in the Calabrese dialect and getting better at proper Italian as the years roll on.
Andrea Bocelli or Povaratti?
Povarotti by a long mile.
Sophia Loren or Elle MacPherson?
Sophia Loren. I love that classic look rather than the rugged Australian girl look.
I noticed Canadian comic Russell Peters’ vids came up in YouTube search next to yours. Are you familiar with his work?
Very familiar with his work. I remember Russell before he hit the big time. He used to come to my shows in Toronto. I wish him all the luck in the world for what he has been able to achieve. We have similar stories and similar routines. He actually sat down with me one day and we discussed management and then I never heard back from him after that. His brother manages him – great idea to keep it in the family.
Name 2 comics you’d love to work with.
Bill Cosby and Billy Connolly.
Which comic has inspired you the most in your career?
Bill Cosby. He works clean, he talks about his family and is a great storyteller.
What advice would you give aspiring comics?
If you get up at a tryout night and you make the crowd laugh once, even if you sucked for the rest of the 4 minutes you were on stage, then you have what it takes. You just now need to work on getting another hour’s worth of material that makes the audience laugh. Don’t give up. Keep trying and if you try the same gag over and over and it doesn’t get a laugh, try another angle or drop it cause guess what? It’s just not funny.
What can Vancouver expect from your show October 12th at the Red Robinson Theatre?
Well, for starters I have a lot of new material since the last time I was in Vancouver, which was 4.5 years ago. I will be incorporating the support acts more throughout the show and I have written a musical number to end the show with which is new as well. Also I will be addressing the topic of the youth of today and how their lives differ to the ones we had growing up as the children of immigrants. I get lots of kids coming to the shows, so it’s always fun to bring them into the routines by addressing their lives.
Also published in the Huffington Post.