Sooshi Mango To Bring “Off The Boat” To Town

Sooshi Mango are finally bringing their comedy show Off the Boat to Adelaide! After three re-schedules due to COVID (damn you COVID) the guys are in town for four shows Friday March 25 – Sunday 27 and its not a line but tickets really have sold fast. As they say “QUICK’A! QUICK’A! TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE & SELLING FAST!” these guys are pretty popular with Adelaide audiences.

It’s a new show with all new comedy skits with all the loveable characters we’ve grown to love. The Sooshi Mango guys have promised a show with “Lots of bells and whistles and shiny lights.” Brothers Joe and Carlo Salanitri chatted with Hi Fi Way about why you should see Off the Boat and the ‘wog’ life.

You were just in Perth doing shows?
JOE: Yeah, we finally got over to Perth which is exciting. We did four shows over here. They are about two years behind us regarding restrictions where they are at 50% capacity so they had to move us from a theatre to the RAC Arena. We had our first show and we are excited to be performing and it was fantastic!

I guess you can say now its an arena tour!
JOE: Well in Melbourne and Sydney we did do the full arenas not capped like in Perth (laughs). We could have done it in one show at the RAC arena!

CARLO: Yeah, we could have put everyone in the arena for one show but that would mean for people that bought good tickets they had to sit at the back so it wasn’t a good option plus with the restrictions it was best to split it into four shows. Everyone still had their allocated seats and they were a little more spread out for social distancing. Everyone’s enjoyed the shows. It’s been good. They were just happy we came here and so were we!

You had to reschedule the dates for this new show Off the Boat. How does it feel now that you are finally performing the show?
CARLO: It’s amazing! We had to reschedule two or three times depending where we were going. It was three times in Adelaide and Melbourne. Actually, Adelaide was supposed to be our first stop and that was in August of 2020. We were ready! It took us about nine months to write the show, we rehearsed for months and we had everything ready. The team was ready and we were literally waiting for the green light then within three days of us going to Adelaide they pulled the plug.

JOE: It was due to Melbourne’s lockdown. The lockdown for only a week that turned into three months.

CARLO: It was heartbreaking for us along with everyone else.

JOE: We love Adelaide! When we perform there the people just understand the humour so well. I love coming there because they just get it all.

CARLO: They are a great audience.

There’s a lot of Greeks and Italians here too so they get it!
JOE: Yeah. It’s funny because nowadays 30-40% of our audience is Australian and with this whole COVID thing our audience has grown to include everyone and they have really enjoyed the other comedy of ours too.

One of Asian friends was always saying “We have to go see Sooshi Mango.”
CARLO: At the end of the day this comedy is called “ethnic humour” or “wog” humour but realistically we just play characters. If the characters are funny, it doesn’t matter if you’re Italian, Greek, Australian, Chinese, Indian or whatever, if it makes someone laugh then that’s all that matters. Characters go beyond being an ethnicity. They are relatable.

JOE: We want them to be relatable to anyone.

We fall in love with characters and we feel like they are our friends. If you’re giving out some kind of warmth as a character people can relate to that.
JOE: Of course!

CARLO: There’s relatability and also comedy. Its good that the characters are able to relate to particular people but like Joe said there’s Australians that are following us and laughing that didn’t grow up with Greek or Italian parents. They are laughing at the characters just being funny! It’s a good mix and it’s going well.

JOE: I do a joke about someone giving you a Panettone. If you are a wog, you get that, if you’re Italian you really get it. If you’re an Aussie you might not get that. So, there may be a few little gags that are relatable to wogs but like what Carlo and yourself has said they fall in love with the characters. That’s what we’ve been trying to do plus we don’t want to call it wog but rather ethnic so like your Asian friend and all nationalities can get the humour.

CARLO: They all had the same upbringing anyway! All ethnics had strict parents and life revolved around food. It may not have been the same kind of food but it’s the same thing. They all got bashed with a baseball bat at some point in their life (laughs). It’s all relatable to everyone. At one of the shows here in Perth a Chinese lady came to the meet and greet and she was so appreciative we were there she was about to pass out! I mean she never grew up with the Bessemer pots like the wogs did but she gets it and that’s great. One of our aims is to not call it ‘ethnic’ comedy we just want to call it comedy.

How did you feel from when you first started as a video to what Sooshi Mango has become today as a full-time job? How was that transition?
JOE: When we started doing it as a video, we were just having fun in the car. It was catching up and laughing. We would put all the bloopers in the videos.

CARLO: It was mates. Mates meeting up say on a Wednesday and it was like a therapy session. We would catch up and have a laugh. We put it out there and it sort of caught fire!

JOE: What happened was when you start getting that following you take it upon yourself…

CARLO: You feel obliged.

JOE: Yeah, you feel obliged to keep the comedy going, keep the people laughing. Then we would get messages from people saying they suffer from depression and by watching our videos it made them feel good. So, I thought this is more than just sitting in a car fucking around, excuse my language, we are touching people and let’s keep going. Let’s keep people happy. I’m not saying we are the only ones.

CARLO: That’s part of comedy. That’s what you realise when you start doing this and it goes for all comedians, when you make someone laugh its beyond comedy, it’s a connection with your audience. You’re giving them these laughs, this relief. So, when you get those messages, you just want to do more. Then you get the accolades and people say you made them laugh and that’s a good feeling. It just steams rolls into this bigger thing. Then people started asking us to do appearances and it leads to doing shows. We did a show with Nick Giannopoulos Wogs At Work then Star Wogs with Nick and Mary Coustas (Effie). It just grew into this thing and we were making an income from it. It was a natural progression and now were doing arenas around the country!

We are all driven guys and want to take things as far as they can go. We’re proud guys that want to wave the flags for the ethnics and the forgotten generation as we like to call them. Our parents and grandparents came out to this country and did a lot. They are almost becoming a forgotten generation of what they gave back and it’s not going to be remembered unless people like us and others wave the flag in remembrance.

JOE: I had this guy come up to us at the airport and he said “I want to thank you guys because my father has passed away but what you do keeps his memory alive.’ So, I said “No problem can we have $120.00 for that!” I’m just kidding (laughs). It’s nice to hear that we make a difference.

Did you ever think it would lead to winning an AACTA Award?
JOE: (laughs) No! No! (laughs) Playing in arenas has been mind blowing and all the other amazing things we’ve achieved but the AACTA Award was one that really surprised me the most. I have to be honest I didn’t think they would give three wog boys from the suburbs an AACTA Award. I just thought we were invited to create the numbers!

We went back stage into the green room and this man came up to us and said “Hey guys, I love your work can you send a little video to my wife because you helped us through lockdown.” We said “ok” and sent her a little video. He said if we ever needed anything and he gave us his card. He was the CEO of the AACTA Awards! I was like “Wow! We might have a chance here!” (laughs). That was very mindblowing. Like I said we thought we were there for the numbers!

CARLO: Our category was voted by the people not that we wouldn’t have stood a chance if it wasn’t but the people voted for us. It’s the fans. It might sound cliched and cheesy but it’s the fans that have elevated us to where we are now. We didn’t get a golden ticket or some executive building us up. It was the fans that supported us from online to arenas to this award. The love we get from our fans is incredible. We do everything for the audience. We don’t hear any outside noise its just all for the fans.

Tell us what we can expect from Off the Boat? Will we see all the crazy and loved characters?
JOE: Yes!

CARLO: Yes. You will see all the characters we’ve played and were born online. There are different skits, some videos, songs, dancing and a lot of craziness.

JOE:  It’s a brand new show.

CARLO: Brand new show with the same characters but in different episodes. Lots of bells and whistles, shiny lights, lots of stuff going on!

JOE: (laughs)

CARLO: We’re pretty proud of it. Like I said before it’s took a good 9 months of the year. It’s different to stand up and we completely respect stand up, but ours is completely different. Ours is like a skit show and very ‘variety show’ based. Lots of props and lots of back-end stuff. Per capita Adelaide are our biggest audiences.

JOE: We could’ve put on a fifth show if it wasn’t for COVID.

CARLO: Audiences can expect to laugh!

JOE: For two hours forget about everything and have a laugh. After the shit we’ve been through the past two years. Just come and have a laugh.

Obviously, you are both Italian but you do the Greek skits so well. Do you see that the humour for each culture is very similar?
CARLO: They’re the same!

JOE: They’re the same!

CARLO: They’re the same just from slightly different part of the world! I grew up around Greeks. I’ve got best mates that are Greeks. I’ve always said I’ve felt Australian first, Italian second and Greek third! I grew up with my best mate, having dinner at his house then going home to have dinner at my mum’s house. I’d have two dinners a night! Italians will say Italians are better and Greeks will say Greeks are better but at the end of the day they are so similar and will always migrate towards each other! Some even get married. Joe married a Greek!

JOE: Yeah, I married a Greek!

Smart boy! (All laugh)
CARLO: Our cultures are so similar and intertwined. That’s why we can do it so well because we’ve grown up with it so much.

What’s the best part about being a ‘wog’?
CARLO: The food! (laughs)

JOE: Everything! (laughs)

CARLO: Immediately the food but I was telling Joe the other day “I loved being an Italian!” I’m sure the Greeks feel the same way too. I was saying “Do you think if I was any other nationality, I feel the same way?” and he said “Of course you would!” And I said “I’m not sure?” (All laugh) Its just great. Europe’s a great part of the world. It’s got a lot of culture.

JOE: I think it’s amazing to be a part of great history but the good and the bad. Seriously there’s good and bad in Italians and Greeks. There’s all the cliches and all the stereotypes but it’s beautiful to be a part of that. It’s also beautiful to be a part of a legacy! They’ve all set these legacies.

CARLO: These people came to Australia in a country where they didn’t know the language, completely foreign and experienced racism. They were literally on the bottom of the barrel and they navigated their way through everything and got to the top of the castle the only way they knew how in those days! Even if it was not paying tax and building 17 units! (jokes). Hats off to them for what they did and how they did it. We are proud to be wogs!

I understand. I’m proud too! I was old enough to know when they called you a ‘wog’ it wasn’t a good thing to when Wogs Out Of Work changing that perspective and being able to take ownership of the word and say “You want to call me a wog? Well, I’m proud to be a wog!”
JOE: Yeah! All accolades should go to Nick Giannopoulos for turning that around back in the day!

CARLO: One hundred per cent. He turned it around. Sometimes still you can feel when it’s said in a bad way and you think “Hmmm ok.” But other times people come up to you and say “Hey mate! I love wogs. I love wog food. You guys are the best!” He’s used it in a good way.

It’s the context!
CARLO: Yeah! Its still one of those words that’s like “Can they say that?” “Are they allowed to say that?” I’ve always been ok with it as long as they say it in the right way and not maliciously.

Lastly, do either of you have veggie gardens?
JOE: Hahaha! Yeah, I got one!

CARLO: I live in a townhouse so no I don’t!

JOE: He comes to help me with mine.

I was going to ask who grows the biggest tomatoes?
JOE: Hahaha!

CARLO: Hahaha! I’m very competitive so if I had one, I’d make sure I would have the biggest out of all the group. So, me 100%! I would put steroids in them and do what ever I had to do to make these the biggest tomatoes that anyone’s ever seen! (laughs)

Interview by Anastasia Lambis

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