With characters such as Maurica, Wysean, Mr. Panos, and the Sneaker Keeper, Yannis Pappas is the one character you should really get to know.
SB: Where in Brooklyn did you grow up? What schools? Tell us a little bit about Yannis Pappas.
YP: I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. I have a Woody Allenesque love with this city and hope to never leave. I went to high school in Manhattan and went to college at The American University in DC. I am 100% Greek-American. I have a complicated mother and an awesome father, two brothers and a lot of sneakers.
SB: When did you start writing and why?
YP: I actually started writing poetry and stuff my junior and senior year in high school because I started smoking a lot of weed and the weed really inspired me. I started writing comedy after I graduated college and I started doing stand up. I was always the class clown in school so I guess I was always riffing.
SB: When did you start doing stand-up comedy?
YP: I started doing comedy about ten years ago. I took a couple of years off and worked and would do a show here and there but overall it’s been ten years.
SB: How did you hook up with Charlie Murphy, Donnell Rawlings and the “I’m Rich Bitch” tour?
YP: Donnell Rawlings was really good to me and would let me perform at his weekly show every week. I guess he saw some talent in me even though I would bomb in his room almost every other week and he took me on the road when those guys were on the road.
He also got me a bunch of background roles on Chapelle’s show. I have opened for him a bunch over the years and most recently opened for him at Carolines on Broadway on New Years weekend 2010. He’s my boy and I will always cherish the opportunities and wisdom he bestowed upon me about the game.
SB: You have characters that I can personally relate to, like each character you have reminds me of someone I personally know! Lol like Sneaker Keeper, Mauricia, Mr. Panos and I loved Wysean lol, where do you come up with your characters? Are any from like your own experiences with friends or relationships etc or are they all made up?
YP: Yeah, the characters are an amalgamation of a bunch of people I have known, I guess. My brain just fuses them into one. When I create a character I don’t think too much, I riff and just let the character create itself.
I get lost in them sometimes, its a lot of fun. All the characters you mentioned I think directly reflect my background being born and raised in NYC as they are all pretty urban characters. In some way, they are a reflection of my childhood growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in NYC.
SB: Do you prefer doing your video sketches or doing live stand up better?
YP: Man, I love them both. There is no magic like the live performance and I love the puzzle type of feel to a production. They exercise two completely different muscles and I have grown to love them both.
I would have to say the live performing has come with a lot of stage fright and anxiety that I have had to conquer as I have matured as a standup comic, whereas film production and writing has always been something I have loved, admired and wanted to do.
Me and my Partner Jesse Scaturro do all the production on our films, It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun. I think we are both pretty passionate about how they turn out. We both care about the “asethetic” quality to the films as well as the “funny”.
SB: Is it part of the video jokes, or do you still live with your mom?
YP: Ha, I actually just moved back in. I guess you know you’re getting older when you throw your back out moving back in with your mom as I did recently. I am actually back there to help take care of her as she is getting older now. My parents had me when they were in their 40’s so they are pretty old now. I am doing ok financially now, but it was a long struggle.
SB: What were some past jobs you had that you wish you could go back and tell them “look at me now bitch” lol.
YP: I worked in Social Work for 5 years as I was trying to get my bearings as a stand up comic. I did 9/11 disaster relief and worked with mentally ill and formerly homeless folks. I loved it.
Hmmm, but I guess if i wanted to rub it in anyone’s face I think it would have to be my oldest brother, I don’t think he has ever believed what I am doing is a real job. I love him, but you know there is always that competitiveness there.
SB: How did you team up with Jesse Scaturro and why did you’s create Ditch Films?
YP: Me and Jesse grew up together. Ditch Films is the production company we started because we both love film and comedy. Jesse is the most talented and multi-faceted artist you can know. He sculpts, paints, takes photos and directs like a beast.
He has the soul of a comedian with none of the need for the attention so we complement each other perfectly since I am an attention whore! “Look at me daddy, hey aren’t I funny and cute!”
SB: There are many comics that are content doing stand-up for decades and doing the circuit and touring and doing gigs like the late amazing Greg Giraldo. Would you want to just do stand up and your videos? Would you want to do a motion picture? Would you want a tv show?
YP: The goal is motion pictures and television. Although the landscape of television is changing so much with the emergence of the internet, I kind of almost feel like we are already doing what the future will look like with less and less television and more and more in demand type of programming on the net, as the net and television merge into one.
SB: What advice would you have for that person out there that wants to write, do stand-up, do sketches, films, etc and says “I wanna do that too”?
YP: Be honest with yourself, if you have no real talent, please do not put people through watching you live. It hurts the reputation of stand up comedy, it is hard enough for patrons to sit through watching comedians with talent develop over the years, when someone delusional is up there it is just brutal and awkward for an audience, it is like time rape.
If you do have talent, be prepared for a lot of pain, rejection and if you are in it for the money you are not going to make it. Work hard and treat the craft with honor and respect and you will be fine. Don’t ever fucking steal from another comic, you will be blacklisted.