HELLENISM.NET: Angelo, hello from everyone at Hellenism.Net and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.
HELLENISM.NET: Where were you born?
ANGELO TSAROUCHAS: Montreal Quebec, Canada
H: Are both your parents Greek? What part of Greece are they from?
ANG: Dad is from Dafni, Sparti, Laconia, Peleponissos, and Mom is from Mytilini, Lesbos
H: It’s obvious from your shows and interviews that you speak Greek. Are you fluent in Greek?
ANG: Yes, people would ask me why I can speak Greek, and I told them it was because My Mother couldn’t speak English.
H: Have you ever been to Greece? Have you done any shows in Greece?
ANG: In my previous life I was a Travel Agent and had visited Greece many times, There really is no place like it, yet, I haven’t done any shows there, I’m not really sure if the Greeks in Greece would get my Diaspora humour.
H: What was your childhood like? What are your fondest memories?
ANG: We were a working-class family, My family owned a restaurant and we all worked in it! My Dad hung out at the Kafenio and My Mother ran the place, seriously, we are a tight family and one of my favorite experiences is when we took a family car vacation to Florida, My Dad kept playing the ‘Trio Bel Canto’ all the way down, and in between, My Mother kept promising to leave us on the highway if we didn’t behave! Ahhh, I miss those days.
H: In one of those typical “I’m proud to be Greek” lists it says: “We are proud to be Greek because our parents do not forget that we exist when we reach 18” and also “We are proud to be Greek because we spend our bad and low times with friends and family, not with shrinks”.Is this the way you grew up? Are you still close with your family?
ANG: Yes, and it’s true, I went through some tough times, as we all do, and my family was there for me. It is the one thing I can seriously count on. Some people say the Greek’s are to close to their kids and don’t let go, I prefer that than some other scenarios I have seen.
H: Who – or what – would you say has had the biggest influence on deciding to become a comedian? Were your parents supportive of your decision?
ANG: I remember watching Rodney Dangerfield and Sam Kinison, I was also a big fan of Harry Klynn, I got the bug in High School and did my first show there. My family has always been supportive, but some of my other relatives still ask me when I’m going to get a real job?
H: Do you feel that your Greek heritage has shaped your character?
ANG: Absolutely, I think we all go through periods doubting who we are and why we are, but I realized that this is my name and this is who I am, It has helped me identify myself on the world stage and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
H: What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today?
ANG: A lot of people early in my career told me to change my name, but I said, that’s what it is, so It ain’t happening. I think as a first generation Greek, mainstream society is still accepting what we have brought to the table, My Big Fat Greek Wedding helped break down a lot of those doors. I received a lot of work after the movie was released, Nia Vardalos brought the Greeks to the front of world cinema, it was a great time for entertainers of Greek descent and we still have to keep going forward.
H: What is one of the most embarrassing moments in your career?
ANG: I was doing a show in Niagara Falls with my good friend and comedian Mark Walker, during my show a cute girl bought me a shooter, so to be the manga I shot it down fast, but it went down the wrong pipe, I started choking for real and all the malakes in the crowd thought it was an act and I was being funny, I could have died, but I gained my composure and puked out the ‘Sicilian Kiss’ It was a girly drink, I should have known better.
H: You’ve appeared in a long list of movies, TV shows and commercials, like Cinderella Man, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, the pizza Delicio commercial, and others. What do you enjoy more, acting or comedy?
ANG: I like both, Comedy is an instant response, where acting you have to wait until the film comes out, and see If you haven’t been cut out of it!
H: There are only a handful of successful people of Greek heritage in the world today. You are one of them and a source of great pride to all of us. How do you feel about this?
ANG: I feel fortunate to be doing what I really love in my heart, I take the Greek work ethic and combine it with anything I do. It always nice when people come up to you and say, “I was having a bad day and you made me laugh”. It’s especially nice when you get the young Greek kids digging what you’re doing, and telling you, “I want to be a comedian also”. It really is a nice feeling, especially when it is from your peers. I am very grateful for this.
H: You spend most of your time in LA lately. Have you met any celebrities of Greek heritage there?
ANG: I saw Jennifer Aniston at Sherman Oaks Galleria, she is more beautiful in real life, I also have eaten at this place called “The Great Greek” on Ventura, they have great food there.
H: What famous actors have you met in person so far, and what do you think about them?
ANG: I have been lucky to work with some of the biggest Actors in the world, DeNiro, Pacino, Stallone, it is always a great thrill to watch these guys work, Eric Roberts is a friend of mine, we worked on Christmas Rush, he is a great actor and he even played a Greek villain once in a movie. Also, Russell Crowe, contrary to what people say is an amazing actor and a really nice guy, we got along great on Cinderella Man.
H: How do you feel about your celebrity status? How did fame change your life?
ANG: I still feel like the same guy who got into comedy when I started, I don’t think of myself as a “Big Celebrity”. Big, yes, it suits who I am, hahahah, yet I feel just like everyone else, I am happy where I am in my life and I always like meeting new people. I just finished a tour in Australia and they treated me just like I get treated in Montreal or Toronto, they are awesome. It’s nice when people see you and get excited but my Mother reminds me I still come from Park-Ex. Montreal.
H: What advice would you have for someone who wants to succeed as a comedian or an actor?
ANG:If you have the urge or the dream follow it, it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to get to your goal. Take all gigs you get and be nice to people on the way up, you may need them on the way down!
H: I read in one of your websites that you have written your own script? Can you tell us a few words about it? Is it going to be the new “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” (Only better!)
ANG: The movie script is called “It’s All Greek to Me” after my self titled show. I don’t think anyone could replace “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, it was so good. This film is about the struggle of a Greek Canadian comic who impersonates a Sumo Wrestling Champion to win the love of a Japanese tour guide! You’re going to have to wait for the rest to come out as it is still in talks with major studios to go to production, so keep your fingers crossed!
H: Angelo it was a great honour to have the chance to ask you all these questions. We wish you every success with your shows and with all your future plans. Yiasou!
ANG: Thanks again and good on you guys for promoting people like myself and Hellenism on your great site, keep up the good work!