Oct. 03, 2012 - Issue #885: Fall Style 2012
Avati has travelled the world and lived a rockstar lifestyle, minus being hounded by the paparazzi day and night. He flies under the radar, but still effortlessly sells out arenas and has launched himself into the upper echelons of the comedy industry with the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Russell Brand, Robin Williams and Bill Cosby.
After flexing his comedic chops for friends at parties, Avati moved on to larger venues, and did his first show at age 21. It wasn't long before Avati left his day job as a food scientist developing ice creams for a full-time comedic career. Now, at 38, despite the confidence he exudes onstage, Avati admits he's a shy guy, and stadium crowds—which can mean up to 9000 people—haven't become any easier to tackle with time.
"Anywhere from 500 to 3000 seats is easy, but once you start getting into stadiums it becomes a lot harder, because how do you control 9000 people at the same time and get them to laugh at a same time? It's a completely different animal that's daunting but very, very rewarding," Avati says.
Fame is great, but the rewarding aspect of comedy for Avati is the metaphysical side and its effect on people. He says comedy can bring people together and evoke great, positive energy, which also has the strength to heal.
"I've had a few people who have said they've taken my CDs or DVDs into chemotherapy with them and I've helped them get through that," he recalls.
Avati's brand of comedy is one that has been able to resonate across generations, particularly thanks to its clean nature. However, it could have very well gone in the opposite direction, considering he apprenticed under Austen Tayshus, a comedian known for offending audiences.
"I always thought if my parents or grandparents were in my audience, would they be offended by what I'm saying? If I thought they would, I wouldn't do it; I felt embarrassed," Avati says, adding Bill Cosby is one of his influences when it comes to the style.
Avati keeps his material current by focusing it on the happenings within his vivacious Italian family, and speaks in Italian and English when performing to capture the nuances of each character's personality. His Back to Basics tour may be a return to the straight-up stand-up style that launched his career, but he promises a host of new characters and material along with his trademark cultural flair.
"It's easier to be funny in both languages. Being funny in Italian adds a lot of depth to the characters I play onstage because your Italian grandmother, when she talks to you, she throws in words in Italian. She doesn't speak all English, so it's more realistic," he says of his shows, where he tends to make fun of himself as well, something his says is a very Australian thing to do and doesn't happen a lot in North American comedy. "Making fun of myself as an Italian was unique and also being an Italian/Australian ... everyone's looking at me going, 'You look like a wop from Brooklyn, but you sound like the Crocodile Hunter,' so it's almost exotic to a lot of people."
Sat, Oct 6 (8 pm)
Back to Basics Tour
Citadel Theatre, $53
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