Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, this Canadian export amuses audiences around the world. His distinguishably Greek name and humor have catapulted him to success. With roots in Sparti and Lesvos, Tsarouchas has always found ways to incorporate his “Greekness” into performances. Anticipating the release of his new film Fred and Vinnie, in which he takes the lead role, Tsarouchas talks to Portes about his work in the world of laughs.
You recently performed in Vince Vaughn’s Comedy Showcase. What is it like touring the country with other notable comedians, in cities around the U.S.?
Vince is great! He is a big star and loves to have a lot of fun. We are developing a sitcom with Vince’s production company, based on my life and comedy. I also get to tour with Russell Peters all around the world, who is one of my best friends. I have toured with Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdink, and Roseanne Barr, who eventually fired me for being too funny!
When did you first become interested in taking your comedy to a professional level?
Like a lot of Greek kids I worked at the family restaurant growing up. I would make fun of the customers, and it became a habit!
What would you say is the most interesting aspect of traveling and performing for diverse crowds?
I have travelled to all continents and made people laugh. It has been a very rewarding experience to go places I would have never had an opportunity to go to. Cape Town, South Africa, is one of my favorite places on the earth, with a nice Greek community as well. I even did a fundraiser show for their church there. The response I received in Melbourne, Australia, was amazing. India was very interesting as well, as I found the Indian people had many similarities to Greeks when I would speak of the family unit!
How often do you entertain Greek crowds, and what do you like most about them?
Regardless of where you are in the world … accents may be different, but Greeks are Greeks! The mentality is the same and it doesn’t change. My one man show, It’s All Greek to Me, has gone all around the world, and people still quote it ten years later from the DVD. It is a show that I do for the diaspora in half Greek half English, and they love it. People really connect to what I am saying because we all grew up the same way!
How has your Greek background been an inspiration in your work?
I never changed my name and I am very proud to say I’m Greek. People love the stories of how I was raised and I always incorporate a bit of the Greekness in me with every show, regardless of the audience. It’s like when you go to a Greek diner anywhere in the world … they always sneak in a few Greek soups and dishes just to remind you that they’re Greek. An agent told me a few years ago I should change my name because it would be easier for me in Hollywood. I told him that too many people died for me to have this name. He never brought it up again.
Aside from comedy shows, you have also appeared in several films. Tell us more about your acting career and how you got involved with that.
It was a natural progression from stand-up comedy. I studied at the Actors Network in Toronto, and Actors Studio in Los Angeles. I have appeared in over 30 films playing various roles and working with some of the biggest actors in the world. I love acting and find it very challenging. I am very fond of my latest film Fred and Vinnie, in which I play Vinnie DeAngelo, my first lead role in a Hollywood Film. The reviews have been great and it should be distributed very soon.
For Portes readers: Do you know any jokes about doors?
They say that when one door closes, another opens. Some people never see the open door, but keep walking into the wall beside it!
Visit tsarouchas.com or see him live!