Creator of Mr. Panos and Maurica is smart, deep and — oh, yeah — funny

Checking In With ... Yannis Pappas

April 03, 2013|By Michael Miller
  • Comedian Yannis Pappas is performing at Irvine Improv on Sunday.
Comedian Yannis Pappas is performing at Irvine Improv…

It's easy enough to see Yannis Pappas for free. The Brooklyn-born comedian has performed widely onstage and on TV, but two of his most prolific acts are characters who star in YouTube videos: Greek restaurant owner (and chain-smoking video blogger) Mr. Panos and transsexual New Yorker Maurica. If those short films whetted your appetite, you'll have a chance to enjoy Pappas live Sunday at the Irvine Improv.

In an email interview with the Daily Pilot, Pappas talked about his Greek-American heritage, his thoughts on Irvine and the serious charity work he's done over the years. The following are excerpts from the conversation:

"Yannis Pappas" sounds like the masculine equivalent of "Yo Mama." Well, maybe the masculine equivalent in Greek or some other language. Is it your real name?

It means John Pappas. Yannis means John in Greek. I didn't change it because Yannis is a dope name; John is the same name as John Wayne Gacy. There have been no infamous serial killers that have gone by Yanni. Nope, just me and the modern composer. Yanni and I are forces for good, whereas John Wayne Gacy and John Stamos are forces for evil. If Stamos had kept his Greek name, Yannis, he would have had Johnny Depp's career. Johnny sounds like Yanni. This response was not funny, but I am too lazy to erase it and try again.


Mister Rogers used to urge his viewers to use art and music to channel angry feelings. So I take it that by becoming a stand-up comedian, you prevented yourself from killing anyone?

For legal reasons, I can't say yes or no to this question.

All right, all right. I've read that you tour Scandinavia every year. Why Scandinavia?

For the free check-ups. I don't have insurance. If you don't like a joke or one of my characters, please don't hit me.

I can't hit you! We're emailing.

This is true. Scandinavia has a great comedy scene and they all speak English better than we speak it here. I met a comic, then met another one, and before I knew it, I have been going to Scandinavia at least once a year for the past five years. I just was on television in Denmark. I love it there — everyone is smart and beautiful.

How about Greece? Do you ever tour there?

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