Joe has become one of the top ranking celebrity comedians in his native Australia, where he sells out shows in minutes. Avati delivers incredibly funny stories about his Italian family, which leave you laughing because you know deep down inside your family is the same!
Its amazing how even though we grew up Italian American and he grew up Italian-Australian, our stories really are the same, the Italian connection is strong and definitely funny.
Check out my exclusive interview with Joe Avati.
1. How did you start doing comedy and what prompted you to share your life stories about growing up “Italian?”
I STARTED PERFORMING COMEDY IN MY HONORS YEAR AT UNIVERSITY. I WAS ASKED TO PERFORM TO AN ALL ITALIAN REVIEW IN SYDNEY AND I THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD THING TO THROW IN SOME JOKES ABOUT BEING ITALIAN SINCE EVERYONE THERE WAS ITALIAN AND THE PHONE NEVER STOPPED RINGING SINCE THAT DAY - SO TO SPEAK.
2. You’ve achieved so much success in Australia and Canada, do you find that in North America you have to shift your comedy to match the cultural differences of growing up Italian or is it true...“Your stories are their stories?”
THE ONLY THING I HAVE TO CHANGE ARE VERY MINUTE REFERENCES. FOR EXAMPLE IN NORTH AMERICA YOU SAY SHOPPING CART - IN AUSTRALIA WE SAY SHOPPING TROLLEY. OTHER THAN THAT ALL THE ROUTINES ARE THE SAME.
3. Would you say you agree with the media when they say “You’re the Italian version of Jerry Seinfeld?”
WELL THE MEDIA CALLED ME THIS FOR TWO REASONS - ONE WAS BECAUSE MY MATERIAL IS EXTREMELY OBSERVATIONAL LIKE JERRY SEINFELD AND NUMBER TWO THEY HAD TO COMPARE ME TO SOMEONE THAT THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE KNEW. THE ONLY WAY TO DESCRIBE WHAT I DID WAS TO COMPARE ME TO ANOTHER STAND UP COMIC AND AT THE TIME SEINFELD WAS THE MOST FAMOUS. I DON'T THINK THEY CALL HIM THE AMERICAN JOE AVATI.
4. Among your many achievements, you’ve also produced another comedy show called, “Il Dago” with other comedians from diverse cultural backgrounds; do you find that diverse cultures have similar upbringings? What makes “us” first/second generation kids the same?
ABSOLUTELY AND I THINK THAT THE SUCCESS OF MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING GOES TO SHOW THAT A LOT OF DIVERSE CULTURES HAVE THE SAME UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE. WHAT MAKES US FIRST AND SECOND GENERATION KIDS THE SAME IS THAT OUR PARENTS CAME FROM THE "OLD COUNTRY" AND WENT THROUGH CERTAIN EXPERIENCES AND WE ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE WITNESSED THAT BUT BECAUSE WE LIVE AND WERE BORN IN THE ADOPTED COUNTRY WE ARE ABLE TO DECIPHER THESE DIFFERENCES AND COMMENT ON THEM. WE UNDERSTAND THE OLD COUNTRY AND THE NEW COUNTRY.
5. In your routines you tell such amazing, funny stories about your family, that I am sure are very similar to many Italian Americans, if you had the opportunity to do another big show here in the states, what material would you be most excited to do and why?
I LIKE PERFORMING THE ROUTINES ABOUT MY MUM AND DAD. I DON'T KNOW WHY BUT THEY GET THE BEST REACTIONS AND AS AN ENTERTAINER YOU ALWAYS LIKE TO PERFORM MATERIAL THAT EVOKES A GREAT REACTION FROM AN AUDIENCE, BE IT COMEDY OR MUSIC.
6. As an Italian Australian, were you just as interested in the past American Presidential elections the rest of the world?
WELL I AM NOT INTERESTED IN POLITICS PERIOD, AUSTRALIAN OR AMERICAN. I UNDERSTAND HOWEVER THAT MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN INTERESTED IN YOUR RECENT ELECTIONS FOR MANY REASONS.
7. You talk about growing up Italian, and obviously it’s a large part of who you are, do you think it’s important to stay connected to your roots, know the language and visit Italy often?
WELL ONE CAN ACTUALLY ENJOY MY SHOW WITHOUT EVER HAVING VISITED ITALY BECAUSE MY SHOW IS NOT ACTUALLY ABOUT BEING AN ITALIAN FROM ITALY. MY SHOW IS ABOUT BEING THE SON OR DAUGHTER OR GRANDSON OR DAUGHTER OF ITALIAN IMMIGRANTS. ITS ABOUT BEING ITALO -INGLESE. WHEN I GO BACK TO ITALY I ACTUALLY SAY TO MYSELF THAT I AM NOT ACTUALLY AN ITALIAN. EACH TIME I GO BACK TO ITALY I REALISE THAT I AM MORE AN AUSTRALIAN THAN AN ITALIAN. I TALK ABOUT THIS PHENOMENON IN MY SHOW.
8. If you wanted to convey a message to non-Italians about growing up Italian, what would it be?
ITS ABOUT FAMILY. AND JUST BECAUSE IT SEEMS LIKE WE ARE YELLING AT EACH OTHER WE ARE ACTUALLY HAVING A NORMAL CONVERSATION.
9. Other than comedy, what other profession or interests are you currently pursuing?
I AM A FULL TIME COMEDIAN AND PRODUCER. I USED TO BE A FOOD SCIENTIST DEVELOPING ICE CREAMS FOR A MAJOR FOOD MANUFACTURER. I AM ALSO A HOST OF A TV SHOW IN AUSTRALIA WHICH AIRS ON MAY 20, 2009.
10. Lastly, getting down to the most important question, When are we going to see you on this side of the world, what are you plans for another Joe Avati Tour in the USA?
NO IMMEDIATE PLANS. I HAVE TOURED TWICE ALREADY AROUND THE UNITED STATES.I WILL TOUR NEXT IF AND WHEN A PROMOTER OFFERS ME A TOUR. I LOVE THE CROWDS IN THE UNITED STATES BECAUSE THIS KIND OF COMEDY IS NEW AND 30 YEARS AND WE HAVE PIONEERED THIS GENRE OF COMEDY AROUND THE WORLD. ITS AN AUSTRALIAN THING TO DO TO LAUGH AT ONESELF AND TO THINK OF ONESELF AS THE UNDERDOG. THIS IS NOT A NORTH AMERICAN MENTALITY AND HENCE WHY NOT A LOT OF THIS KIND OF COMEDY HAS ARISEN FROM NORTH AMERICA WHICH IS A SHAME BECAUSE ITS VERY CONFRONTING BUT AT THE SAME TIME EDUCATIONAL. IT HELPS ONE ACCEPT WHO THEY ARE.
I would like to thank Joe Avati for taking the time to do our interview here on IAG, to find out more information on tours, CDs, & appearances , go to www.joeavati.com Tweet