Exploring Greek Comedy With Yannis Pappas

by | Sep 15, 2021 | COMEDY

The “Tzatziki King,” Yannis Pappas, comes to Sandman Comedy Club this weekend. In advance of his three-night stand, Gabe Santamaria sat down with him to talk about history, Jeff Bezos, and how comedians are really just theatre kids.

This week I got to talk with the unapologetically Greek comedian, Yannis Pappas. Known for his characters and podcasts, such as Hyenas of History and LongDays with Yannis Pappas, he’s become a staple on the New York and national comedy and podcast networks. This is probably the craziest and funniest interview I’ve done to date. First of all, he thought he was on a podcast, and came ready to fire off jokes. We talked Richmond, theatre, and his characters. He’s calling upon all the Greeks in Richmond to come to his show at Sandman Comedy Club this weekend.

Before we get into it, I just want to let the people know: there are jokes in this interview, and not to take it too seriously [Uh-oh…-ed]. These are comedians. Here’s our conversation:

Gabe: Have you been to Richmond before?

Yannis: I have been to Richmond before. I went to school at the American University in DC and I was a history and American Studies major. So I went down to Richmond, to see all the sites in which the North kicked the South’s ass!

Gabe: [laughs] You know the Robert E. Lee statue got taken down last week?

Yannis: They took him down because I’m coming. So I called up before and I said, “Listen, we got the leader of the Union coming down, Yanni P, and I can’t have no disrespect.” There’s no monuments to my adversaries that are down there. So we’re taking them down or I’m coming with my antifa Army. 

Gabe: [laughs] Hell yeah. You’ll fit right in over here. 

Yannis: Hell yeah. 

Gabe: I took a summer soccer camp at American University years ago. Very nice area.

Yannis: It was very nice. I guess soccer camp didn’t work out that much, because you’re podcasting now. 

Gabe: [laughs] Yeah, athletics didn’t really work out. Definitely. But you’re a history major, and I think you care a lot about about facts and history and research. So how much do you think people forget the importance of history? 

Yannis: Yes, we do all the time. I mean, there’s no way out of the funhouse. We’re here for the entertainment of God, or the simulators or aliens or whatever. This is one big reality show for some higher intelligence, and we’ll never get it right. That’s why your life is either a tragedy or a comedy. Your perspective is either comedy or tragedy. Those are the only two options, because those make the stories for the higher intelligence that are enjoying watching us. The whatever-created-us is enjoying the entertainment. So you’ll never get it right. We’re not built, we’re not coded to get it right. We’re always coded to fuck it up.

Look at Jeff Bezos. He’s fucking investing in some company that’s going to make him live forever. It’s like the biggest joke of all time. I mean, nothing lasts forever, but this kid, he’s got so much money, he’s like, “Look, I got too much money and I’m having too good of a time, it just can’t end.” But it will! It ends bad for all of us. So your goal is to just view it as a comedy; enjoy it and have that perspective, and accept that. Otherwise, you become the tragedy. But that’s good too, because then that gives us stuff to laugh at. So: Jeff Bezos — hahaha, you’re going to die. 

Gabe: You’re not lying. It’s like theatre with the beat of stand-up. It is theatre though, still.

Yannis: It is theatre. Yeah. You know, we do skits. That’s why I love comedians. When we try to act too cool, it’s like, “Look, we’re the theatre kids.” So when you’re running around selling your merch or whatever, we’re still the geek theatre kids. We’re not the cool kids. 

Gabe: You have a lot of characters that you do.

Yannis: I do a lot of characters. I like to have fun exploring the world through somebody else’s perspective. I get bored of me so much that sometimes I like to just become someone else and deliver comedy through somebody else’s brain. Because when you become a character, you actually start thinking like them, and saying things they would say, and perceiving things the way they would perceive themselves. I mean, what else is there to do in Richmond? What’s going on in Richmond this weekend that you’re not coming to this fucking show? What else? It’s going to be a good time. I guarantee you to have a good time. 

Gabe: That’s a good point. I’ve heard some of your characters on your LongDays podcast.

Yannis: Yes, the Boricua Maurissa. I got more. There’s Mister Palmer, the Greek character. I mean, if the Greeks of Richmond don’t come out, I’m just going to change. I’m not going to identify as Greek anymore. 

Gabe: You’re Greek and proud. A tzatziki king. What’s a common misconception about Greek people, and what’s a hundred percent accurate?

Yannis: A common misconception is that we no longer exist. That we’re just some sort of weird mythical figures from history. We exist. Another misconception is that we’re all gay. We’re only half gay. So that’s the truth about that. And some things that are true is that we are a little bit hairy and we overthink a lot. Oh, and we hate Turks.

Gabe: If you could pick one of your characters to fuck, who would it be? 

Yannis: It would be, easily, Maurica. I mean, she’s the only one that’s a girl. So, I’d fuck her for sure. I mean that… she’s a pro. She would definitely know how to – you know. I mean, I want to fuck her, for sure.

Gabe: She does sound hot.

Yannis: Puerto Ricans are the hottest!

This guy had me cracking up this whole interview. He didn’t take this seriously at all and it was awesome. Comedy prevails. Be sure to check out his podcast, LongDays with Yannis Pappas. You can the tzatziki king performing sets all weekend at Sandman Comedy Club. Show times are 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Be sure to get there an hour early for food and beverages. Tickets are available at Sandman Comedy Club’s website.

Gabriel Santamaria

Gabriel Santamaria

Band leader of The Flavor Project, Co Owner at La Cocina Studios, Cast Member on The Hustle Season podcast.




more in community

The Kids Are Alright: Cristian Espinoza’s Street Life Photos

Cristian Espinoza has been capturing the essence of youth street life for some time, and his film photography provides a raw, authentic look into the underground and art culture of the DMV area. We had the opportunity to send him a few questions. R. Anthony Harris:...

Richmond’s Next Mayor? Get To Know Dr. Danny Avula

Here’s my conversation with Dr. Danny Avula, candidate for Mayor of Richmond VA. This completes the set of all my conversations with Richmond’s prospective Mayors for November 2024. One of these people is going to be leading the city next year. Who it’s going to be is...

Dystopian View of VCU’s Graduation Walkout

The Greater Richmond Convention Center has undoubtedly experienced more prosperous times. The recent walkout by Virginia Commonwealth University graduates highlighted a series of declining events in Richmond, marked by police confrontations during protests and the...