Popular Comedian/Radio Star Costaki Economopoulos in Richland and Spokane
Bob and Tom fans know comedian Costaki Economopoulos from his regular (almost weekly) appearances on their radio show, where he delivers his topical Economonologue, and talks about his personal life, which has faced some challenges recently.
We spoke earlier this week while Costaki was on an extended summer vacation with his family, which he said was the most relaxed he'd felt in a while. "I've been working my ass off. So it's nice to just immerse yourself in the family that knows and loves you. And you know, go swimming and drink too much beer," he says.
So without further ado, "the biggest name in comedy," Constantinos Christos Vassilis Costaki Economopoulos...
The Bob and Tom Show
Dan: How long have you been on the Bob and Tom show? I mean, you're very popular on that program. You're a regular.
Costaki: Yeah, those guys have been great to me. I've had a regular segment with them for about 13 years. On more weeks than not. So yeah, those guys… Not to be too dramatic about it… But those guys changed my life. You know, I can go to markets and sell tickets and draw people who want to see me on purpose. And they've been great. I love those guys. Sometimes when you meet your heroes, they're A-holes, and you're disappointed, you know? These are all really good people. They're kind, and they're generous. And they're smart. And they're insightful. They're nice people. Chick’s a little bit of a weirdo, but Chick’s a great guy, too. You know, I've been on trips with them. And I've done gigs with them. And I've had lunch with them. And over the course of all these years, I know them all pretty well. And they're great folks.
Not to be too dramatic about it… But those guys changed my life.
Dan: How intimidated were you to meet them?
Costaki: Oh, HUGELY. And in the old days, on the walls of the studio, they had all the affiliates. All the cities, and all the call letters, and there was like, 160 of them at the time. And you just sit there like… I wasn't an embryo, but I was a young child in comedy.
Costaki: And to sit there and kind of take that in, it was very intimidating. It was terrifying to me that at any given moment, a million-and-a-half people might be hearing my little jokes that I was writing in my car, you know?
A Surprising Bob and Tom Show Fun Fact
Dan: What would fans be surprised to know about the Bob and Tom Show that you've seen as an insider?
Costaki: One thing that might surprise people... Tom Griswold kind of plays up being a pain-in-the-ass on the show. He couldn't be any nicer. He's the opposite of that. He is a germaphobe. But… he's generous to a fault. He's a great dude.
Dan: Shouldn't we all be germaphobes at this point?
Costaki: But he was ahead of his time. He was fist bumping you, and wandering around with hand-sanitizer, long before it was cool.
Tom Griswold kind of plays up being a pain-in-the-ass on the show. He couldn't be any nicer.
Why It's Important to Laugh at Your Problems
Dan: I don't know if you want to go there or not, but you talked about your personal challenges on the Bob and Tom show.
Costaki: Yeah. For listeners who don't know what we're talking about, I announced on the show that my wife and I just separated. At first they were a little like, “Oh my God,” and it was kind of sad. And then they just shifted right into their own stories, about their own weirdness, and lawyers, and problems. And it was it was a little earthy and weird, but it was really fun. It was exactly what I wanted from them.
Dan: Well, like you said at the time, it's a weird thing to joke about, but it also is very helpful. You’ve got to be able to laugh at the bad stuff in your life.
Costaki: Yeah. My dad taught me that. He’d kid with me about things that were a little touchy, you know. Like, I had acne at the time. And we would joke about that. And it let me know that it must not be that bad if we could still joke about it. And also, I firmly believe this, as a philosophical thing more than a comedy thing... It's just a good way to handle stuff that's tough. And it doesn't mean that you're not also giving it serious space in your head and heart. By joking about something, it doesn't minimize the importance of it. But it can help you to learn to handle it, too. And of course, it's a release from the weight of it sometimes. So I think laughing about heavy stuff is not only useful, but really important sometimes.
By joking about something, it doesn't minimize the importance of it. But it can help you to learn to handle it, too.
Dan: You went to college. Is that a requirement for being a stand up comedian? You have to be really smart and go to graduate school?
Costaki: There's a few well educated comics, but most of them bail out of education somewhere earlier along the line.
Dan: But they're really smart, typically, because you have to be to dissect the world the way that you do.
Costaki: I have to say that as a group, comics are smart folks. When you meet actors, they're sometimes compelling and interesting, but not that bright. Comics are bright. I mean, plenty of actors, of course, are smart. And some are brilliant. And that’s true of comics, in the full range. But as a broad generalization, comics are sharp, man, they're they're sharp. And I like them.
When you meet actors, they're sometimes compelling and interesting, but not that bright. Comics are bright.
He Likes Them. He Really, Really Likes Them
Dan: You’ve been in serious relationships with two of them, right? So I’d say you definitely like them.
Costaki: Yes, there are two of them that I have children with. Goodness gracious! I married one of them.
The Royal Order of the Road Comedian
Costaki: Another thing I like about comics: there's this sort of fraternity. It's a small group of people who have the same experiences. When you meet a comic, you know that they've also driven seven hours to a club that was locked, and is no longer open. And that you've been there and killed, and then the late show, you eat it, and you don't even know who you are anymore. You know, there's a crazy process and life around being a comic. You're part of this weird little club, and they're good to each other. And there's an ethic of busting balls, and laughing about everything. You know, if you just meet a stranger, you really can't joke about cancer. But if you meet a comic, you can, and you don't even know the guy yet. So I like comics. They're good folks.
When you meet a comic, you know that they've also driven seven hours to a club that was locked, and is no longer open.
Dan: Are the club owners part of that fraternity on some level? I imagine once you've done it as long as you have, you know these people. You must have kind of a personal relationship with some of these club owners.
Costaki: Oh, yeah, some of them have been doing it for a long time. And there's a gritty sort of underbelly to being a club owner. It’s also a weird life that most people can never understand. It’s much harder to make a living as a comedy club owner than you would think it is. It's almost like running a restaurant, where there's kind of a thin margin, and you really better know what you're doing or you're dead in the water. And some of them, not all of them, but some of them have given up other things where they could easily make three, four, or 5x… Because they love comedy. And a lot of them are former comics who didn't really take off in the game of comedy, but love comedy and want to nurture it and be with it, you know? And some of them are just comedy nerds who just love what it is. Some of them are guys who just couldn't get a permit for a strip club, and try this instead. There's a full range, but most of them are good folks. Yeah.
And a lot (club owners)... love comedy and want to nurture it and be with it, you know?
The Genius of Joker's Comedy Club
Dan: What about Joker's? Max at Joker's has figured it out, because he has a bowling alley and a casino in the club as well. So he's making money.
Costaki: That's right. If you can just get some bodies in there to watch a few jokes, they stay in there and play poker, and have a few drinks too. He's like a mini-Vegas the way he's running that place.
Dan: It's a good space.
Costaki: Yeah, it's fun. It's nice to be in business with people who are innovative and successful with their craft.