What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they’re comedians? No, that’s not it. It is a fact, though, that America’s biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York’s vibrant comedy scene. It’s called Meet Me In New York.
Well, this is a first.
I first learned of Yannis Pappas thanks to his short films with other stand-up comedians via Ditch Films and Comedy2go, and when I first saw Pappas performing himself onstage and on video, I immediately thought of him as a kindred spirit of Astoria comedy. But that’s just the influence of his Greek name. And his Greek character, Mr. Panos. There’s also his character, Maurica, but that’s another story. Besides, Pappas is from Brooklyn. By the time Meet Me In New York caught up with him, Pappas had moved to Miami — where he co-hosts Fusion Live, an hourlong news magazine program that airs weeknights at 8 p.m. Eastern on the new Fusion cable channel. (Disclosure: My roommate has shot a couple of videos for Pappas and Fusion Live, including one in my apartment)
So here we are. Or, rather, here The Comic’s Comic is in NYC, while Pappas is in Miami, except for those times he has free to hit the road for comedy gigs and/or the show sends him on assignment. This spring, Pappas flew north to Boston to film his first Half Hour stand-up special for Comedy Central. It debuted last month.
Let’s get to know more about him and his comedy experiences in the big city!
Name: Yannis Pappas
Arrival date: Grew up here. NYC born and bred.
When and where did you start performing comedy? NYC in 2000, took two years off from 2002-2005, roughly.
What was your first credit? BET’s 106 & Park. I did a few minutes of stand-up on there. They actually stopped doing that because of my set. It went well but they thought a joke of mine was too edgy, so they decided to stop doing live stand-up comedy on the show. Sorry to all the black comedians who lost opportunities because of me.
How did growing up in NYC shape your desire to be in show business?
I was exposed to so many socio-economic statuses, cultures, ethnicities, you had to learn to fit in and survive and thrive. Comedy was a tool that helped me do that. It was also a way to impress ladies and not get beat up, two things that kept me relatively happy and intact.
Did growing up in NYC make it any easier to launch your comedy career here?
Yes and No. Yes because I was living with my parents when I started so I didn’t have to live in a shoebox basement in Queens, drink dollar beer and eat ramen to survive- like so many comics that come here and struggle to survive at first. But no, because I had all my friends here so I wouldn’t go out as much as I should to hang out with comics and be around the scene.
Have you ever considered moving to L.A. or elsewhere to further your career?
I just did move to Miami for my television show Fusion Live on ABC’s new network, Fusion… and would definitely consider moving to L.A. I’ve been in Miami for a while and L.A. is like Miami minus the cocaine and plus the entertainment industry. I don’t blow lines and I am in the entertainment industry so could be a good match.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here?
Get a girlfriend or a boyfriend as soon as possible who is not in the business and make sure they have a stable job and apartment and move in with them.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Wearing the Maurica wig performing at a birthday party in the Bronx for 100 bucks.
Pappas as Maurica:
Pappas as Mr. Panos:
And his episode of Scott Moran’s “Modern Comedian,” in which he talks about getting shot. Yes. That kind of getting shot.
Which NYC comedian would you like to see me style and profile next for Meet Me In New York? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com