Joe Avati Comes to Vancouver

Known as the "Italian Jerry Seinfeld," Australia's Joe Avati brings his unique style of comedy to Vancouver

Credit: James Pendlidis

Comedian Joe Avanti plays the Red Robinson Show Theatre October 12

Comedian Joe Avati talks comedy, Canada and family-friendly humour

Delighting audiences with a show that encompasses a mix of Italian and English, Australia’s Joe Avati is the world’s top-selling bilingual comedian and has earned the nickname the “Italian Jerry Seinfeld.”

An observational comic who draws heavily on his Calabrese roots, Avati has become a bona fide sensation in Canada, where he currently holds records for album and tickets sales since his first international performance in 2001.

“I’ve been doing this in Australia for 30 years, but it’s a relatively new style of comedy in Canada,” he says of his popularity in this country. When somebody comes along and does something for the first time ever, it’s always going to be big and exciting. Australian Italians aren’t entirely Italian and don’t feel Italian when they go to Italy. Here, they don’t entirely feel Canadian – they’re kind of middle ground. My comedy defines that middle ground for them and makes them feel like they can identify. That’s why I think it resonates.”

His family-friendly subject mature is another reason Avati’s act has such broad appeal.

“I measure it like this: if my parents or grandparents were at the show, would they get offended by what I was saying? If they would, then I won’t say it. I don’t swear in my show and I don’t talk about religion or anything that’s going to offend, but at the same time I’m not really pushing those boundaries. I am questioning my culture and why we do the things we do, but I’m not offending anybody by doing it. You can bring anybody, whether it’s your parents or your children, so you can have three generations in the same row watching one show. That’s a pretty rare thing.”

As for why the comedian does a clean routine in an era when most comics incorporate ‘blue’ material, Avati cites his earliest influences.

“I gained a lot of inspiration from Bill Cosby because he was clean and he talked about his family and he would keep going and going. To keep an audience entertained for that long a time is something I think is an amazing feat.”

For aspiring comics, Avati’s advice is simple: make sure it’s funny.

“If you get up for five minutes, even if you don’t make the audience laugh the entire time, if even one of those minutes gets you a laugh, it means you’ve got what it takes. Now all you have to do is keep on working to expand that and you’ve got a show. The other thing is that if a joke does not work onstage, either change it, do it another way or drop it all together as it’s just not funny.”

 Joe Avati plays Red Robinson Show Theatre Friday, October 12.