A LITTLE MORE ABOUT GEORGE
George Kapiniaris’ sees himself as “unsteretypical”.
The renowned comedian, actor, musician states that his scene is: “full time dad, part time entertainer and a try hard husband.”
Kapiniaris’ launch into comedy seemed inevitable. He “can’t remember” when he began performing, it seems as if he always was. His earliest recollection was “like a black and white movie scene”. Kapinaris reminisces: “I’m on a train with my mum travelling from Katerini to Athens. We went to Greece for my grandfather’s funeral in the Christmas of 1968 … there was snow everywhere. Anyway, I’m on this train, I’m six years of age, there are Greek people all around me, up to now I’ve refused to speak English to anyone in Greece -a real method actor – and I’m holding court. I am the center of attention. I can’t remember what I said but I loved it and I remember that all the passengers loved it. My mum was smiling like she was my manager, but she wasn’t surprised or anything like that. It must’ve been what I did, even then.”
Kapiniaris continues: “As a young Greek growing up in Richmond my parents would take me to the Greek cinema where I would also be introduced to the wonderful Greek comedians of that era: Voutsa, Vengos and Vouyouklaki. And then in the 70’s it happened. While watching an episode of Happy Days a guy called Robin Williams appeared as a character called Mork. I was hooked! He was my first TV and Standup Bromance. I wanted to be Robin Williams. I wanted to try stand up, I wanted to play a quirky lead character in my own sit com. And I did it! And I’m still doing it!! What an influence that guy made.”
Kapiniaris himself is now seen as an influence. He has “been in the business for 32 years”, working on “12 Angry Men, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Nice work If You Can Get It, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, The Flying Doctors, The Give and Take, Thunderstruck, Underbelly, Wogs Out of Work and Acropolis Now.
Personal stories and even personal tragedies are sometimes the best things to talk about.
Having survived so many years in the entertainment industry, Kapiniaris is forthright in his advice for those who may be keen on beginning a career in comedy: “Start writing. Keep all your notes and ideas and put them together in some kind of order. Personal stories and even personal tragedies are sometimes the best things to talk about. Go to a comedy school or masterclass. Go to as many shows as you can. Watch as many videos as you can. Try out your material in front of a crowd, but not your partner, they can be your worst audience. Find a teacher or director or comedian that can work with you one on one. Do theatre sports and Impro, because that will teach you to say & write the first thing that comes into your mind which in most cases is the best option. Team up with some other young aspiring comedians and something might happen … plus go to drama school and find yourself an agent.”
At the moment, Kapiniaris has teamed up with comedians and they are touring with their comedy production, Straight Outta Compo. “I am loving this tour. All I have to do is create, rehearse and perform.
Kapiniaris’ humour unites rather than polarizes
Joe Avati and John Zaccaria are doing all the hard work producing and all I have to do is rock up and perform to packed houses. How cool is that! Producing your own Comedy Festival show sucks. I don’t know why people do it. It’s a bad business plan if you ask me.” However, Avati and Zaccaria did have a good business plan including Kapiniaris in the show. Kapiniaris attracts audiences from every nationality. Though many of his references are to Greeks in Australia, most can see similarities to their own background and culture. In that sense, Kapiniaris’ humour unites rather than polarizes.
It may seem that it is a similar genre and remake of Wogs Out of Work and Acropolis Now, but Kapiniaris states: “the subject matter is more up to date”. Kapiniaris continues: “We were looking for a name for our new show. Joe, Tahir, Rob and I knew we wanted to work together but we didn’t want to go under the WOG banner again. The funny thing is a lot of our audiences won’t come to our shows unless we make it really obvious that that’s the type of show we are doing. We didn’t want to give our show a shit name like WOGS BACK IN WORK or something like that. That was great 30 yrs ago but now our audience and the mainstream audience want something more. We were going to go for a Ratpack/Las Vegas style show but in the end decided on a title suggested by Tahir – and that was STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPO. It’s a rip off of that movie title STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON and our first video clip is a send up of their movie trailer. We all loved the title but agreed we had to try and stick to the theme even though our stand up could be whatever we wanted it to be. So our sketches, songs and videos do explore the themes of 80s/90s gangster rap and shonky compo claims, but our stand up is all about us – and gangster rap and shonky compo claims.”
Straight Outta Compo has been receiving rave reviews and Kapiniaris states that the audience can expect the following: “Our show is a two hour show, our show has four red hot, bang for your buck, top notch comedians with over 90yrs experience between them, we have many costume changes, we have video items, movie parodies, animation all based on the theme of the show … we have six mics all working at once … we have songs … we have comedy sketches based on the theme of the show … we talk about ourselves … we mock things we don’t like. Hanging shit is what we Comics do…that’s called mockery… what we also do is talk about ourselves… our best stories come from personal experiences, our audiences come out of this show satisfied, they’ve had a huge laugh…”
Kapiniaris describes his comedy style in food form as: “A meaty Souvlaki with Perri Perri Sauce and not too much salad. Pork too! It’s the closest meat to Ham!”
Kapiniaris does “hang shit” on himself as well with “so many” fun anecdotes from the show. He states that he wouldn’t know where to start and then continues: “but I did forget to go on stage recently at the Adelaide fringe festival this year with our Compo show. And we had reviewers in that night too. I’ve come off stage dressed in drag busting for a piss and there I am at the trough with a couple of punters thinking, that’s it for me, I can have a rest where I was supposed to be on stage introducing the next sketch. The reviewers did comment on the technical hitch. Little did they know that I had my dress hitched when all this was going on. The reviewers gave us five stars.”
After this tour, Kapiniaris is already working on his next project. He states: “I’m writing a play with my actor mate Tony Nikolakopoulos. Not sure if it’s a one hander yet. It deals with the theme of aged care or lack of it. We’re working under the title of The Life of Byron.”