Peter Kelamis Greek Comedian
AFTER DINNER COMEDIAN
Peter Kelamis is a stand-up comedian.
When is a comedian not just a comedian? When he’s also an actor. But seriously, folks, despite his rocket-like success as a stand-up comic, Peter Kelamis has always been something of a dramatist. That is, his humour is based less on jokes than on detailed storytelling, in which this talented impressionist plays the ensemble cast. Thedark-haired performer’s background has provided many different characters to draw on. Born in Sydney, Australia, he was sent to the Greek Islands to live with his grandparents while his family relocated and re-established themselves in Canada. Reunited with his parents in Canada – and learning that his Greek grandparents were in fact not Mom and Dad – the young Kelamis sorted out life’s cast of characters by imitating them.
When he ran out of relatives and teachers to imitate, he resorted to slapstick or whatever was handy (“I would kill with the fart jokes,” he insists, sincerely), and he drew on material gleaned from TV. “The breakthrough for me was watching Rich Little do impressions on his variety show. I don’t know why, but that just fascinated me. So pretty soon I was doing his stuff and cracking people up even though I had no idea who the hell Richard Nixon was!”
Career driven since kindergarten he did his first stand-up act in front of his grade 4 class – he solidified his stage ambitions with a plum role in his high school’s version of “Grease”. (“I can’t sing,” he explains, “but the music was really loud.”) In the mid 1980s, he enrolled at the University of British Columbia, taking a mix of psychology anddrama classes. But schooling started to slip when he heard about a lunch hour amateur contest sponsored by Punchlines Comedy Club. “I heard you could win five bucks, and I’ve never looked back.” In fact, it was his firstpaying gig, and the “scrawny, hyper kid” soon developed a following. He made ends meet as a banquet waiter, kept at the stand-up, and excelled at improvisation in the Vancouver Theatresports company. All this led to his first appearance at Punchlines Comedy Club located in the Gastown district. “The experience at UBC paid off. I hit the stage with about 15 minutes of material already in my back pocket.” He had his first headlining spot within a year (extremely fast by even stand-up standards) and eventually he opened for such comics as Howie Mandel and Dennis Miller. “I got my first agent, got a few small parts, and was dropped like a sack of hammers.” The harsh realty of show biz realized.
Bruised but not beaten, Kelamis rebounded to experience the highlight of his career to-date: Improvising on stage one-on-one with Robin Williams. “Robin came up to me after the show and said, ‘You’re really, really funny.’ I mean, I didn’t go to him, he came to me!” In fact, there was a casting agent in the house at that gig, and he’s barely stopped working since. He got a new agent and after a few commercials, Kelamis began landing straight roles in films and on TV.
Peter Kelamis was a hit at the Montreal Comedy Festival and toured widely across Canada. Along with his own Comics special on CBC, and a raft of on-going voice-over jobs, he has appeared in more than thirty films, series, specials, and movies-of-the-week, most of them in the past few years. Highlights include featured appearances, often as straight men or deft technicians, on such creep-fests as The Outer Limits, Sliders, The Sentinel, and four different shots at The X-Files (plus a goofier part on The New Addams Family). Guest-starring on the new E! Entertainment television series Hollywood Off-Ramp, Kelamis dukes it out with the devil and on the TV series Strange Luck, the producer loved his character so much they wrote a whole episode for him. Instantly recognizable for his dark hair, oversized eyes, and bow legs, Kelamis has had notable film roles in Happy Gilmore, Fear Of Flying, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Dog Show, and Richard Benjamin’s hilarious new The Sports Pages: The Heidi Bowl. He has a recurring role in the Showtime series Beggars and Choosers, in which he plays the head writer on a TV show.
“A lot of comics are doing straight roles these days,” he observes. “And I think it’s because we know so much about timing, about reading an audience. There is no mercy in comedy: I mean, when you’re a performer, silence is the loudest sound you could possibly hear.” For Peter Kelamis, life just keeps getting noisier.
Video Premiere Award for Best Animated Character Performance – Nominated
Leo award for Best Screenwriting in a Music, Comedy, or Variety Program or Series – Won
TELEVISION / FILM / RADIO
Madly Off In All Directions – CBC Radio
Happy Gilmore – Feature Film
The X-files | Outer Limits | Andromeda – TV series
STAGE APPEARANCES WITH
Howie Mandel | Dennis Miller | Robin Williams