A Chat With Comedian Joe Avati

Australian funnyman coming to Canada in the fall.

Jennifer Coxby Jennifer Cox

Referred to as an "Italian Jerry Seinfeld," Joe Avati has broken both album and ticket sales in Canada, and is about to return for a string of shows. Hailing from Australia, he has crisscrossed the globe performing his comedy shows in both English and Italian, selling out venues on both sides of the Atlantic. He gave Crave a little insight into his background and the challenges of being a stand-up comedian.

Tell us about your upcoming tour and how it came about.

The new tour starts in Canada and will go on for about two years around the world. It's called "Back to Basics" because in this show I am getting back to my roots and what made me famous in the first place: stand-up comedy about the observations I have made about growing up an Italian in an English-speaking country.

Have you always done comedy? Would you say you've always been funny?

No, I was a food scientist developing ice creams. I wouldn't say I was always funny – I learned to be funny in my later teens. I was always a good joke-teller but quickly realized you can't tell jokes on stage. You have to have your own routines, so I drew from my memories of growing up with my grandparents and family.

What's the most challenging thing about doing stand-up comedy?

The most challenging part of the job is constantly coming up with new material. Comedy isn't like music where, for example, The Rolling Stones can sing the same songs over and over, year in, year out. An audience won't put up with hearing the same jokes year in, year out, so you have to make sure you have at least 80% new material the next time your show comes to town.

Is there a difference in comedy and what audiences find humorous between Australia and Canada/North America?

Not so much in my show because the experiences I talk about are universal, but certainly the style of humour varies. In Australia we are very self-deprecating, which isn't really a North American thing to do, so that features strongly in our style of humour. We also use a lot of sarcasm and irony in our humour, which the North Americans just don't get.

Who would you say is your comedy icon?

I really modeled my career on Bill Cosby. He works clean and talks about his family and he can perform for two hours straight.

Any other upcoming plans you want to tell us about?

For the time being, I am on this world tour, which will take up the next two years of my life. I am also producing other spin-off shows in Australia.

What's something people would be surprised to know about you?

For an Italian, I don't really eat pasta.