Friday, January 21, 2011
"Keepin' It Lazy" With Tim Nasiopoulos: This Canadian Comedian-Sensation Delivers A Few Laughs About Greeks, Lady GaGa, and "Walking Through A Window At A Bar Drunk"
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN SEXUALLY SUGGESTIVE CONTENT AND MATURE SUBJECT MATTER. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED. A imperative note to Tim for when he attended his first Yuk Yuk's comedy show all the many years ago. It wasn't long after though that Tim went from simply "seeing" to "doing" and transformed into the "entertainer" as well as the "observer." His first performance at a Yuk Yuk's amateur night on a Monday evening propelled him into freelance comedian's world of gigging at various bars, cafes, and comedy clubs in his local metropolitan of Toronto. Tim has shared his gift of making a tragic world smile at Yuk Yuk's and colleges across Canada, as well as comedy clubs in New York and Detroit. At the 2006 MRSOE!, Tim Nasiopoulos let the crowd into his family, his father specifically. Tim's funny descriptions of his father led to cultural revelations of being raised in a Greek family. Now that his site http://www.keepitlazy.com/ is in the process of development, I took the opportunity to talk to Tim about confronting these ethnic stereotypes about Greeks, choosing between Lady GaGa and Justin Bieber, and "walking through a window at a bar drunk." Because, hey, who hasn't?
V.B. When was the precise moment you realized your comedic abilities?
T.N. I used to make my cousins laugh doing awful Scottish and Indian accents, when I was 12 and living in Scarborough. I later realized they were a pretty easy audience.
V.B. How do you "get funny" or get in that mood?
T.N. Aside from nudity, I rarely get into a funny mood. It's always there; it's just whether I decide to bring it out. A lot of it is timing. I tend to be less funny off the stage, unless I'm with close friends or making fun of people falling down in public.
V.B. Do you - or anyone else - consider your ethnicity-based jokes 'racist'? Why or why not? Where should comedians draw the line in terms of this type of cultural humour?
T.N. I've never had anyone question those jokes. I think it's all the context. I think racism comes in when you are intentionally getting a laugh, while being derogatory towards another group of people. I have a joke about a Middle Eastern cab driver, but it's a character based on a real experience. It's funny because of how animated he is; but it's not offensive, because the joke isn't about him being Middle Eastern, and it isn't criticizing him for that. If your jokes are coming from good intentions, then I think the crowd will be on your side. Another thing I find is that regardless of your cultural background, you'll find at the root they are all extremely similar. The way parents treat their children, the way kids act at a given age, or the dynamics of a relationship are all pretty universal.
V.B. Anything special about Greeks you'd like to share? I find they're quite similar to us Italians.
T.N. We did have to teach the Italians everything we knew when the Romans rolled in, so it's no surprise we are very similar people...;) Kidding. I find that with both cultures, family and eating are a huge part of life. We both love to eat and eat together and judge one another. I find Greeks have also mastered guilt - Greek mothers using guilt as a blunt instrument to get things done. It's not uncommon for phrases like "you don't love me" or "I may not be here when you get back" to be used to get things done.
V.B. What would you say is your funniest joke(s), and why?
T.N. Can't say I have a favourite joke. I find the more I say a joke, the less I like it, just because you've said it so many times. I like telling stories where I can take the audience with me on an embarrassing misadventure from my past - whether that's walking through a window at a bar drunk, or having my mother pick up a phone in the house when I'm already talking to someone. It's like she doesn't know how to use a phone. She'll just start talking, even though she hasn't called anyone yet. Who presses 12 buttons to make a call? Is she calling South Korea or something? Usually she just watches Young and The Restless all day. She loves Victor Newman.
V.B. From your experience of witnessing many comedians perform, what would you interpret as a "good" or "bad" comedian? What are some rules to follow? Any inspirations you base these beliefs on?
T.N. Comedy is an art form, so there aren't any real rules. It is also sometimes taken for granted just how difficult it can be. Everytime you try new material, it's always in front of a live audience. You can tell your jokes a hundred times in front of a bathroom mirror, but you need that crowd to gauge how funny or awful it is. It's also very subjective, so "good" or "bad" is completely dependent on what makes you laugh at that time. That being said, I find that a "bad" comedian could be someone that isn't committed to their material or doesn't respect their audience. A lot of times, you'll find comedians mailing it in when a crowd is too small, or not giving it their all when they feel they aren't performing for "their crowd." When you're on stage, you should be performing like it's the first time you've said your jokes. Perform as if it's a packed room all the time. I want to give every audience a great show. Easier said than done.
T.N. I do have a joke about how slang is getting out of hand. People say how things are "sick" or "retarded." I have a joke about how slang is just getting worse and worse; eventually things will be so "sick" that they'll be "AIDS." I'm hoping to make some t-shirts.
V.B. Lady GaGa or Justin Bieber?
T.N. Who do I like better, or who would win in a fight to the death? Lady GaGa seems more vicious; it could be her larger penis. Justin Bieber, however, may be able to weaken her by excessively crying and then sucking out her soul through his floppy hair.
V.B. Megan Fox or Kim Kardashian?
T.N. There must be a way where everybody wins. They are both extremely beautiful women, but I think I gotta go with Megan Fox. She was in Transformers and is with David Austin Green from Beverly Hills, 90210. This was my childhood. If she bangs ALF one day, it would be the trifecta..I think I'm dating myself with the ALF reference. Look it up people. He was a talking alien that liked to eat cats.
V.B. Any final words, hints as to what you'll surprise us with for future shows?
T.N. Currently, I'm working with an awesome group of comedians, The Comedy Records Collective. We're kind of like the Wu-Tang of comedy. We've released an album already and are planning for some big things in 2011. Check us out at http://www.comedyrecords.ca/, and follow us on Twitter. If you're looking to get into comedy, just get on stage, and keep getting on stage. Do it as much as possible. As for myself, stay tuned for a one-man show in the summer. I'm also trying to incorporate some male stripping into my act. Gotta hit the gym first.