Anthony Locascio “Heart of Darkness”
Anthony Locascio “Heart of Darkness”
You have been quoted saying "I am goddamn proud of my heritage, so you best believe I am going to make fun of it." How does your Greek-Italian heritage influence your personal brand of comedy?
- Well admittedly, it’s a six-year-old quote haha. I try to keep the influence as peripheral as possible. In comedy, and in art generally, there seems to be this notion that ethnicity is either used as the ENTIRETY of your inspiration, or not at all. I resent that; life is far more nuanced. I am not a Greek/Italian comedian, I am a comedian, who happens to be Greek and Italian. This idea was the inspiration behind my 2022 show ‘Don’t Call Me A Wog!’.
My ethnic background is a big part of my identity, so to ignore it in my comedy is rather asinine. But I do have a lot more to me. Having said that, a big chunk of my fanbase does identify with those backgrounds, so I try to always put a sprinkling of ethnic flair on each of my shows. Some oregano and basil added for a bit of flavour.
'Heart of Darkness' is all about the worst things you have ever done in your life. Can you give the audience a hint of what they can expect?
I don’t want to give too much away, but it is about two very specific ‘bad’ things I did when I was 17 and my Nonna had just passed away. The show is about coming to terms with negative aspects of your personality and using them to invest in good things…like love.
The show I’m doing at the Greek Centre is an encore for my Melbourne International Comedy Festival run, in which I performed the show 9 times in Southbank. If you didn’t come, I’m sure one of your cousins did, so you can ask them for more hints.
You have been called one of Australia's leading post-racial comedians. How does 'Heart of Darkness' differ from your infamous 'Don't Call Me A Wog'?
I’ve actually been called THE NUMBER ONE post-racial comedian in Australia…and I know this because I called myself it haha.
‘Heart Of Darkness’ is totally different to last year’s show. In ‘Don’t Call Me A Wog’ I bemoaned the ethnic stereotyping I’ve experienced in my life, and in my comedy career. All the stories and jokes I told revolved loosely around that theme.
In ‘Heart Of Darkness’, the themes are broader, so the material varies a lot more. There’s stuff about monkeys, lactose intolerance, Hitler...
Also, last year I had lights, music, props, and a projector screen showing old home videos and other such accompaniments to the show. This year, it’s man, microphone, opinions – as God intended.
Being half Greek and half Italian, how do you feel like the Greek + Italian communities have reacted to your comedy style?
Generally, favourably, in Australia at least. I will usually have members of both communities come to my shows across the country, for which I am eternally grateful.
On the internet it is, occasionally, a different story. Go find the video in which I compare the surface level laziness of service staff in Greece and Italy (from 2017 I might add, though the comments persist to this day) and you will see a tapestry of colourful comments from very offended Greek people. Not so many from Italians; they don’t tend to speak English.
But I do try and embody a sort of ‘next generation’ humour; I think comedy about being Greek or Italian Australian needs to evolve beyond what they were doing in the 80s and 90s, and if I have to be Charles Darwin, so be it.
You use a mixture of Greek, Italian and Australian colloquialisms in your comedy. It is very impressive to be able to tell jokes in three different languages. How do you think Greek humour and Australian humour differ?
I was fortunate enough to speak Italian and Greek at home growing up, so I have a good grasp of both languages. Having said that, I’m yet to actually do comedy in a language other than English. I think it takes a lot more than just the ability to speak to pull off comedy; you need to have a real grasp of idiom, as well as the culture of the places, and I’ve not lived in Italy or Greece. I will throw a comment in each language into my sets from time to time though.
It's an absolute bucket list item of mine to not only perform in Italy and Greece one day, but to try and do shows in the languages.
As far as the difference in humour, per above, I think Greeks are, as a general, considerably more patriotic, and as a by-product, intense and serious, than Australians. So it’s a bit harder to appeal to their sensibilities. Though from what I’ve gleaned, the stand-up scene in Greece is blossoming, so maybe that’s about to change.
Greek Australians on the other hand have great senses of humour, provided you talk about things that are relatable to them…like the amount of garlic you should put in tzatziki.
What part of Greece are you from?
My grandparents came from Argos. I am from Rosebery. I think having origins on the mainland as opposed to a Lesvos or a Castellorizo makes me somewhat of a rarity. I’m not a Māori.
Do you have any stories that encapsulate your experience as a Greek-Australian?
My cousins have a Greek father, and a Zimbabwean mother. They are half black. Walking into church with them is always funny because you get whispers from judgemental Yiayiathes about what the ‘mavres’ are doing there. My cousins of course speak perfect Greek, so there’s dramatic irony there.
I was also the President and Treasurer of the Macquarie University Greek Association when I was at University, which lead to much hilarity, such as when NeosKosmos printed my name as Anthony Locascioς because they couldn’t comprehend having a president with an Italian surname. Also my first task as treasurer was to try and reconcile $16,000 which had disappeared under my predecessor, who took an extended trip to Mykonos. Greek stuff man.
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