Actually...You Can Say What You Want with Joe Avati

Joe Avati is a comedian celebrated for his sharp wit, engaging storytelling, and insightful reflections on cultural differences. With a career spanning nearly three decades, Avati has built a global following. Recently, I sat down with Joe to discuss his ongoing "When I Was Your Age" World Tour, his upbringing, and the challenges and triumphs of being a comedian in today's politically charged environment.

Joe's ability to maintain his energy and enthusiasm for such a demanding schedule is remarkable. He attributes this to his laid-back pre-show routines, which often include a quick nap, and a philosophy of not overthinking his performances.

Cultural Roots and Work Ethic

Joe's background as the son of Italian immigrants in Sydney's Five Dock neighborhood has profoundly shaped his comedy and work ethic. He shared some key influences:

  • Family Influence: His immigrant parents instilled a strong work ethic, emphasizing the importance of hard work and perseverance.
  • Community Ties: Joe's father was a director at APIA Leichhardt, a national league soccer club that played a significant role in his childhood.
  • Local Connections: Joe still enjoys visiting his parents in Five Dock, reminiscing about the Bay Run and local cafes.

From Food Science to Comedy

Before becoming a comedian, Joe pursued food science, a decision heavily influenced by his parents' practical advice. His journey includes:

  • Initial Career Path: Studied food science, initially aiming to become a restaurateur.
  • Professional Experience: Worked at Streets and helped develop Magnum ice cream in Australia.
  • Passion for Cooking: Despite his comedy career, Joe still loves cooking and experimenting with flavors.

Joe explained that his transition from food science to comedy was driven by his passion for entertaining and making people laugh. He started performing while still at university and kept his comedy pursuits private until he was confident in his abilities.

Navigating the Comedy Landscape

Joe discussed the complexities of being a comedian in today's politically sensitive environment. Key points include:

  • Audience Sensitivity: Understanding and respecting the boundaries of different audiences.
  • Edgy Humor: Pushing the envelope while maintaining respect, exemplified by his joke about "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."
  • Balancing Acts: Striking a balance between humor and potential offense, navigating the fine line between being funny and being controversial.

Joe shared his experiences with audience reactions, noting how some jokes received standing ovations in North America, while others led to walkouts. He emphasized the importance of understanding your audience and adjusting your material accordingly.

Political Correctness and Identity Politics

Joe didn't shy away from discussing the impact of political correctness and identity politics on comedy:

  • Changing Times: Reflecting on how the things comedians could say five to ten years ago are now off-limits.
  • Identity Politics: Critiquing the absurdity of some aspects, such as people identifying as various non-human entities and the confusion it creates, especially for children.
  • Navigating Sensitivity: Despite the challenges, Joe believes it's crucial to discuss these topics thoughtfully, often using humor to shed light on the ridiculousness of extreme positions.

Joe's approach to these sensitive topics is to tread carefully but truthfully, using comedy as a way to highlight the absurdities and stimulate conversation.

Parenting in the Modern World

Raising kids in today's world presents unique challenges, especially for a touring comedian. Joe shared his thoughts on:

  • Parental Influence: Striving to instill resilience and a strong work ethic in his children.
  • Modern Challenges: Dealing with conflicting parenting styles and societal pressures.
  • Comedic Reflections: Using his experiences as material for his comedy, often making light of generational differences.

Joe's comedic take on modern parenting includes anecdotes about the contrasting styles between him and his wife, reflecting broader societal changes.

Maintaining Humility and Groundedness

Despite his success, Joe makes a conscious effort to remain humble and grounded. He emphasized:

  • Public Perception: Being mindful of how his actions are perceived by others.
  • Staying Humble: Simple acts like cleaning up after himself in public to avoid being seen as arrogant.
  • Personal Anecdotes: Stories of maintaining a low profile, even during his early days of success.

Joe shared how he goes out of his way to ensure he stays connected to his roots, emphasizing the importance of humility in maintaining authenticity.

The Role of Joe's Italian Background in Comedy

Joe's Italian heritage plays a significant role in his comedy, making it relatable to many ethnic audiences. He discussed:

  • Cultural Humor: Drawing from his experiences growing up in an Italian household to create relatable and humorous content.
  • Global Appeal: His ability to connect with audiences worldwide, especially those from similar immigrant backgrounds.
  • Challenges: Facing criticism from some quarters, including people from Italy who may not appreciate his humor.

Joe shared anecdotes about his performances in various countries and the differing reactions he receives, highlighting the universal appeal of his comedy.

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

Joe's journey hasn't been without its challenges. He spoke about:

  • Overcoming Bombs: Dealing with poor performances and using them as learning experiences.
  • Persistence: The importance of continually pushing forward despite setbacks.
  • Finding His Voice: Joe mentioned that it took nearly 30 years for him to feel he had truly found his comedic voice.

Joe's resilience and persistence are key themes in his story, serving as an inspiration for aspiring comedians and entrepreneurs alike.


Joe Avati's journey from food scientist to international comedian is a testament to his talent, resilience, and adaptability. His ability to connect with diverse audiences while navigating the complexities of modern comedy makes him a standout figure in the entertainment industry.

For those looking to catch his show, more information and tickets can be found on