George Zacharopoulos

George Zacharopoulos

George Zacharopoulos moved from Greece to study biochemistry in Newcastle – avoiding his national service – and discovered stand-up soon afterwards. He has supported Luisa Omielan on tour. and made several appearances on This Week, discussing the Greek financial crisis.
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George Zacharopoulos: Wonderland

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

George Zacharopoulos isn't cast in the heroic mould of his Greek homeland's ancient classicism, at least not in the conventional sense. Rather, he's an inhibited coward who pictures himself as the 301st Spartan lined up to battle the Persians, the one who escaped to live another day and tell the tale.

A nerd with a National Geographic subscription who aspires to be like the honey badger, a dolt of an animal that satisfies its primal urges by rushing in where only fools tend to tread, he's now a long-term resident of Newcastle, his romantic life impacted by his commitment to performing internationally. At least one of his relationships has failed because he spends five months of the year at festivals like Edinburgh.

So imagine his delight in 2018 to match on a dating app with Alice. A gorgeous but scrappy single mother with a tough childhood backstory and a doctor no less, a sop to his parents’ ambitions for him to go into medicine, she's understanding of his lifestyle. And their relationship moved fast, too fast, with their initial, passionate hook-up, overcoming Zacharopoulos' hesitancy, and he failed to exercise the proper precautions.

Faced with a potentially massive overhaul to their lives, the couple are nevertheless brought closer by the experience. And shortly before lockdown puts everything on hold for him professionally in 2020, ensuring he needs someone to lean on, the comic has successfully integrated his girlfriend into his touring schedule.

Sure, there are some bumps in the road, as his unconscious can't seem to stop him uttering a previous girlfriend's name in his sleep. And his current beau gets angrily jealous whenever the subject of this ex comes up. But for the most part, Zacharopoulos is fully loved-up, just about tolerating his idiot mates' quips of 'who the fuck is Alice?'

A lover of love, for whom The Notebook rivals Spartacus as his favourite film, Zacharopoulos truly appreciates good storytelling.

But he isn't the most worldly-wise, having indiscreetly left photos of his ex on his phone as he passes it to his girlfriend. When he's furiously confronted by Alice about this, the situation escalates into a medical emergency. Kept from the hospital by Covid restrictions, it's only when he meets her sister that he comes to appreciate the full import of Alice's condition, turning the comic's life upside-down, forcing him to reassess his actions and their relationship over the past two years.

Adroitly done, Zacharopoulos has effectively hid the serious hints of the revelation in silliness, the deception justified as he aligned the listener to his own erstwhile obliviousness. Self-mocking throughout, he's careful to make himself the butt of the joke when he flirts with grittier, potentially more contentious material about the battle of the sexes.

And he finally gives himself some credit in the strongest, closing quarter of the show, with Wonderland ending on a resurgent, romantic note. Capable, nuanced storytelling from a comic who knows they've got an unusual tale, it's one that's nevertheless relatable enough for him to subsequently suggest it's probably more widespread than society acknowledges.

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Published: 27 Aug 2023

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