As he looks forward to his first stand-up show Christof Epaminondas and Friend(s): Too Much Encouragement at the Edinburgh Fringe from 4 to 28 August – Christof talks about the inspiration behind the show and being heckled by his yiayia, Melia Toumazis.
Why do you do comedy?
I just love the feeling of making people laugh and always have – I’m not sure if it’s down to a deep-rooted need for attention or that I like to bring people joy, but it feels good! (My publicist/mum has instructed me to say that I like to bring people joy).
Is your family funny?
Humour is a big part of my family and I feel like everyone is funny.
Having said that, I genuinely think the most I’ve ever laughed is listening to my aunt, Tia, in Cyprus. She’s an awesome story-teller and it feels like she ends up impersonating everyone on the island.
I’d like to amend the above to say everyone is equally funny in the interest of avoiding a family-wide war.
Tell us about your Edinburgh show? It’s called Too Much Encouragement – sounds like a regular Greek Cypriot family experience
Agreed! It’s largely about family and in particular how much support I’ve got – not just about comedy, but throughout my life (not quite the story of a tortured artist…). Fundamentally though I’m just trying to make people laugh with silly stories and observations.
The idea really came from how into my comedy my family’s been. I did a comedy competition once with an audience vote. I told my mum and then when I got to the venue 50% of the audience were blood relatives!
But they can be tough customers – I did a gig in a pub in North London (where else?) to family and friends and my yiayia ended up heckling, which is an experience to fall back on if I encounter any rowdy crowds.
Also, while I’ll be performing for 30-40m, the rest of the hour will be other awesome acts!
Is this the first time you’re going to appear at the fringe? How did it come about?
I visited once in 2016 and thought the festival was incredible – the city gets taken over by the fringe and it feels like every spare room/broom cupboard/windowsill is hosting a painstakingly crafted show.
However, this will be my first time performing and it’s been a long-time coming!
I originally applied to perform in 2020 and had a venue sorted and all, but the festival was of course cancelled. I wasn’t sure about taking a show up this year, but the venue reached out, offering me my original slot.
What comedy did you enjoy as a child?
I think my early comedy was influenced more than I like to admit by whatever happened to be on TV after school.
Friends and The Simpsons were obviously the kings of post-school programming, but I also really liked The Mighty Boosh, Flight of the Conchords and Arrested Development.
I also loved the old classics like Only Fools and Horses (yiayia’s favourite) and Fawlty Towers.
What do think about Stath Lets Flats?
It’s sort of wonderful that a show about a man with the surname Charalambous set in the unglamorous parts of North London could become one of the all-time classic British comedies and that it connects with such a broad range of people.
Natasia and Jamie Demetriou are also clearly frighteningly talented!
Tell us about your comedic career to date?
I’ve been doing comedy on and off for years now! As a kid, I went to an awesome drama group (shoutout to the incredible Mr Williams) and every year we’d do a sketch show. An early comedy memory is a sketch where I dressed up as batman in hot pink leggings and danced around to Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”. You had to be there.
At university I did a few sketch shows and wrote and put on a Sherlock Holmes parody, despite never having actually read any of the books, which I put down to youthful confidence.
I really started getting into stand-up in 2019 having dabbled before and that’s been my main focus since!
I’ve also filmed and put out a bunch of sketches online which I’m going to be doing more of on my catchily titled social media accounts (*cough* Instagram: @christof.epaminondas; Twitter: @CCEpaminondas *cough*)
Suddenly, my pre-Covid excitement came rushing back and I jumped at the opportunity!
You’re going to relocate to New York with your company. What do you think of the US comedy scene?
There’s obviously so much incredible comedy in the states and New York in particular is arguably the global home of stand-up!
Probably my favourite stand-up in the world is John Mulaney and I’ve already got my tickets booked for a show of his in New York in November!
There’s also a Greek-American stand-up based in New York called Gus Constantellis who I’ve been following on Instagram for a while, so I’m definitely going to make sure I catch him when I’m out there.
To book tickets for Christof Epaminondas and Friend(s): Too Much Encouragement