Somewhat shamefully I wasn’t aware of Steen Raskopoulos until last week when I caught him as part of a mixed bill featuring Phil Wang and Marcel LuCont. And despite those two being on superb form he was the highlight of the night, and in the review I commented “It’s quite frankly bloody hilarious stuff, I was wiping tears of laughter from eyes throughout”. Since then I’ve watched the fantastic BBC comedy series Top Coppers which he starred in alongside John Kearns, and Squinters, which Tim Minchin and Sam Simmons also act in, and that’s extremely funny stuff too. So I’d implore you to not only see him live as soon as you can but also watch all of his tv work as well. Here he talks about what it was like to appear on Whose Line Is It Anyway, Top Coppers and Squinters, his latest full length show, and why a man once got semi-naked on stage with him.
Comedy To Watch: You’ve been a main cast member in Whose Line is it Anyway? Australia in 2016 and 2017, what were the highlights of appearing on the show?
Steen: I think for any improviser it was a childhood dream. I used to watch the UK and US versions when I was twelve, never thinking I’d do that sort of thing let alone be on the show. It was an honour to perform with some of my closest friends in comedy and then getting to work with someone you admire in Rhys Darby, was surreal. Also, I got given twelve pairs (of a particular sneaker brand) of shoes that I could have if I wore them on the show.
CTW: And you were in the BBC comedy series Top Coppers with John Kearns, can you tell us a little about your experiences on the show, and what you enjoyed the most? And do you have plans to work with John in the future?
Steen: That was my first lead role in a television series and it was equally amazing to share it with John. It was surreal, I still think it’s surreal – playing a 70’s style police officer with one of the funniest scripts I’ve read. Everything was amazing. I’d love to work with John, I think he’s one of the funniest and most naturally gifted comedic actors in the biz (that means business in the biz). I got him to be in my Sky short and he slayed as usual.
CTW: What it was like working on Squinters, which we noticed was co-created by Trent O’Donnell who’s the man behind one of our favourite series, Review With Myles Barlow?
Steen: Squinters was good fun but hectic. We shot all our scenes in two days which was stressful and exhausting but I learned a lot. We didn’t get much time with Trent as every car was directed by a different director, but I love everything he’s done and would work for him and Jungle again in a heartbeat.
CTW: Your father is FFA Hall of Fame footballer Peter Raskopoulos (as you quite possibly know!) – how did he feel about your becoming a comedian? And did he ever hope you might become a football player like himself?
Steen: My dad’s the best. He didn’t care what we did as long as we were happy. It was all the old greek men around football community who didn’t understand. Two of my other sisters represented Australia in sport so I think they covered that side of stuff.
CTW: Your most recent critically acclaimed show was heralded as being a far more emotional work, what led to your decision to perform such material? And is this something you plan to explore further in the future?
Steen: I had to share my experience dealing with my mental health. I think it’s an important conversation to be had and hopefully opens up more discussions with people whether be public or private. I’ve always played with honesty and truth in my show, I’ve just disguised it well.
CTW: A couple of years ago you mentioned in an interview how one piece of audience interaction led to “a couple of old Scottish ladies…well, let’s say they were very into rubbing sunscreen on me” – has anything stranger than that happened since?
Steen: I’ve old people sit in the front row and fall asleep and I was reminded recently that a young man showed me his bum on stage — it was in a scene where in order to get past a third and final challenge he had to make the ‘wall who never laughed’ laugh… he succeeded.
CTW: Is there a piece of audience participation that you’ve later regretted?
Steen: Hashtag No Regrets.
CTW: You’ve chosen to do sketch and improv comedy rather than more traditional stand up, what led to that decision?
Steen: I prefer playing characters. I find myself quite boring on stage.
CTW: If money were no object, what would you like to create?
Steen: A faster way to travel to Australia, although my frequent flyer miles would take a hit.
CTW: And finally, what one piece of underrated comedy do you wish more people knew about?
Steen: I think in Edinburgh every year, you just find someone or something that you randomly wander into and love it. This year was Ella Jean. She improvised songs so beautifully in the most intimate spaces in Edinburgh and I went back three times. Funny and mesmerizing.
Steen’s Official Site.
Steen will be at the Soho Theatre in March 2019 and you can buy tickets here.
You can watch all of Top Coppers thanks to the director uploading it to his site here.