St. John's Confidential File
Make ‘Em Laugh: Anthony Owliaie
By Michael St John
Jul 20, 2012 - 8:39:57 AM
HELLO AMERICA! He’s come from the bay area and most recently Las Vegas ready to confront every funny-bone that Hollywood puts before him. ANTHONY OWLIAIE is a guy who gets his kicks when he can make his audience cry from laughing at his jokes about his friends, himself and the world he lives in. My time with Anthony was very special, so sit back and enjoy.
Q: How young were you when you decided that making people laugh was something you might enjoy? And who were some of the comics you enjoyed the most and why?
A: My earliest memories are of me entertaining my mother, grandma and aunt. They encouraged me nonstop...I'd set up performances as early as the age of 4. I'd do impressions, dance routines, and even go back and forth with my 3 person audience. I'm sure it was funny to see this little runt trying to own the stage. Or in this instance, my living room. But what did I know? I was just a kid trying to make my family laugh. And their encouragement is what forged a dream.
Growing up I used to watch a lot of old stuff with my grandma when she took care of me while my mom was out working to pay the bills. We'd watch I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, Three's Company, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. I loved Abbot and Costello, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. As a teen I really started to enjoy all forms of comedy whether it be standup or sketch. In Living Color was my intro into sketch and I loved it. I was a huge fan of Def Comedy Jam and only later got into SNL near the end of high school because of Will Ferrell. Some of the greats are Eddie Murphy, Ellen Degeneres, Billy Murray, Dave Chappelle, Steve Carrell...I could list a ton. There's just so many comedians to appreciate in the world of comedy and entertainment. But those are just a few of my loves. The reasons why I think I love these comedians has to do with their commitment. Their ability to stay true to the character or idea that they are portraying is immeasurable. It's something to aspire to.
Q: What kind of family and neighborhood did you grew up in? Have you included some of those early experiences with certain types of characters that ultimately impacted your style of humor?
A: My mother was a single parent and I was an only child. My father had two other sons separately after me. I grew up in Sacramento, California until my mother moved us to Napa when I was 6. Sacramento was busy, tough and diverse. I remember there being a lot of fights and having to stand up for myself a lot. I can only imagine what the first grade would have been like... No joke. Once we moved to Napa, suddenly I was the worst kid in the class. I remember it was very different. I was a good student, but it took a little adjusting to assimilate to a small town. I spent a lot of time in detention. But part of that was that I just got along so great with the detention lady. I remember she asked me one day, "Why are you in here so often? You're such a nice boy..." I didn't think she'd want to hear that it was mostly there for the conversation. Even though we lived in Napa, my mother and I visited Sac every weekend. My mother is Mexican American and my father is from Persia. I didn't grow up with my father. In fact I didn't meet him until I was 9 years old. We're very close now, but I had no Persian culture until I met him. So my upbringing was basically the Mexican American culture. But as you can see, my last name is very Persian. Needless to say, I had some explaining to do on the playground. And during roll call especially. My godmother is African American and had a hand in raising me during my teen years as well. So my upbringing has been a mish-mash of culture that definately lends itself to some interesting characters in my improvisation and performance. I wouldn't change my story for the world. It's made me open-minded and given me an interesting perspective.
Q: What makes you different from other comedians? In the old days we had Red Skelton, Bob Hope, George Burns, I could go on and on, and they all were different which attracted mass audiences; how do you separate your kind of humor from most other comedians today?
A: Each comedian has something that they bring to the table that one person can relate to that another person might not. But if you can try your best to embody the idea or emotion of the character or concept your performing, people will enjoy it. My passion is playing different types of characters. It's why I find people so interesting. Our different opinions and backgrounds is what is entertaining to me. Because we are all searching for the same thing in the end. Happiness.
Q: Have you a plan to follow in order to bring attention to yourself here in Hollywood?
A: My forum is improvisational comedy. So the stages of UCB, Groundlings, IO West, and Second City are my playground. I could also dress up like a chicken and walk the streets but that's so Brad Pitt. That got him nowhere. And I also need to set my own trend. Improv comedy and sketch will be my foot in the door. I'm not limiting myself to comedy. Dramatic acting is something I'm completely passionate about. I just know my strong suit, if you can call it that. Maybe it's more of a tuxedo.
Q: What has been the reception of people so far since arriving in Hollywood? How steep is the competition in your area of entertainment?
A: It's great. I know it's a tiny community of dreamers living the dream. It's to be commended. At the same time it's competitive and harsh. But everything in life is. The cream always rises to the top. I just hope I'm foamy.
Q: Is there a kind of comradery amongst young comedians in the industry? Do you support each other as many actors do? Are there suitable venues where you might be able to experiment or test your kind of humor?
A: I feel the comradery. At shows you can feel the energy. People want to be apart of something. If they can support it, they will. I know that I support any improviser. I know how hard it is to do what we do. I take nothing for granted. As for venues, there are unlimited spaces to hit the stage as I mentioned before. It's just a matter of going up as much as possible. Getting exposure and experience.
Q: Are you more drawn to films, TV, Cable or nightspots with a live audience and why?
A: I'm drawn to all of it. My joy is in entertaining. I think that half the battle in life is just having the nerve to try out what you're passionate about. Where ever the people are that can appreciate what I have to offer, is where I'm drawn to.
Q: Who is ANTHONY OWLIAIE today? And where do you think you’re going?
A: Today, I am an improviser who loves performing. There's much more to me, but for the purposes of this interview that's the simplified version. Where I'm going involves a world of improvising, sketch, and hopefully television shows and film. Maybe a little syndication. Family, life, love, happiness... So I'm doing it. Whether you like it or not.
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