By Syune Arakelyan
UK Armenian comedian Kev Orkian has performed around the world, also shocking the jury members of Britain's Got Talent and making King Charles III—then Prince Charles—cry with laughter. Through all these successes, Orkian never forgets about his priority, which is his homeland—Armenia. Along with his comedy shows and funny videos on Instagram, the comedian is always vocal about all the problems and injustice surrounding Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).
NEWS.am STYLE presents an interview with Kev Orkian for the series ArmenՅԱՆs, where the world-renowned comedian speaks about his roots, meeting with King Charles, Armenian comedy shows, and upcoming projects.
Mr. Orkian, how had your family settled in London?
My father moved to the UK in 1965, direct from Lebanon where he was serving as a soldier for two years. My Mom moved in 1972, after being one pals with my father through the Armenian church. Both immigrated from Turkey.
My grandparents lived in Sevas and were forced to move to Turkey to survive the genocide of 1915.
Do you come to Armenia often?
I go to Armenia at least once a year if not twice. I was only there in August 2022 when I was filming my second documentary, Ararat Uncovered, where we climbed the Mount Ararat. We filmed so much of lost Armenia including Akhtamar and Ani. The experience was amazing, and I plan to go to Armenia again in 2024 to film two new movies.
In 2017, while being here, you were shooting a project together with Andy Simon, Armenia Uncovered. What was the most amazing thing to learn about Armenia?
What I learned about Armenia is how beautiful our country really is. We have an incredible history, cultures and people that is pretty much a kept secret, unless you visit the place. The most amazing thing I discovered was the organic food that tastes totally different from the rest of the world. It was delicious and incredibly delicious. I was also humbled at the amount of love there is for the country, for me the best country in the world.
You’ve also visited Stepanakert. Was that your first visit to Artsakh?
It was my first time visiting Stepanakert. The entire region was the cleanest place I have ever seen. Taking into account the amount of adversity the place has endured, it looked like nothing had ever happened. Imagine 400 bombs hitting the city daily and yet today it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.
I know that you’re speaking Armenian, following the traditions. What about your sons?
Both my sons are growing up learning Armenian. We don’t speak very much at home due to my wife being English, but through my passion for Armenia, my twin sons have taken an interest and learn the language and the history through me. I believe my heritage is important to protect and elevate through new generations. If we don’t take the importance of protecting our language our history we will be diluted to nothing one day, and I will not allow that to happen.
Let me pass to the beginning. How Kevork Kapikyan turned into Kev Orkian?
When I went to register as an actor in the UK they didn’t allow my name in full due to another Armenian actor called Kevork Malikyan. So, they asked me to change my name. So, what split Kevork in half to Kev and then I removed "kapik" from Kapikyan and added the "ian" instead of “yan” to make Kev Orkian.
Was your sense of humor inherited by someone or was it just born with you?
Only God knows the answer. I was born to make people laugh—that’s what I know.
You’re making a lot of people laugh—from the stages, through the social media… Is it easy to make you laugh?
I laugh a lot. My favorite things online are bloopers. I cry with laughter when watching these. As for standup, I’m a little more skeptical and laugh at comedians who have funny bones. Most comedy these days is for shock value not comedic and that’s why I’m more choosy at who I enjoy.
A lot of people got to know you from Britain’s Got Talent. What did the show give to you besides the fame?
Actually it didn’t give me any fame at all, nor did it do anything for my career. My success has come from my own hard work and determination to succeed in an industry that has given me the ability to enjoy what I have been born to do. The show is not really a talent show but more of an exhibition to highlight people who think they can do what takes years to perfect. It’s a good to show only.
You’re one of those comedians who had the chance to perform in front of The Royal family members! What kind of an experience was that for you? Were you nervous?
I’ve never been nervous when walking on stage. I enjoy performing so much I don’t think about getting nervous. Performing for royalty was an honour. I have performed for many of the British, Saudi, Dubai, families. Each one has been so much fun, and watching King Charles crying with laughter, makes me feel amazing. The Sheik of Dubai gave me a five min standing ovation which humbled me greatly.
If I’m not mistaken, you had the opportunity to have a conversation with King Charles—then Prince Charles. Could you remember what were you talking about?
I totally remember what we spoke about and the main subject was about being Armenian. He was interested about my heritage. He also mentioned how much he enjoyed my show and quoted by saying: "You're an absolute
Do you follow Armenian comedy shows?
I watch Armenian stand up comedians like Vahe Berberian and ArmComedy, both of which are very funny. I do believe, however, that more Armenian comedians need to be universal to open up bigger opportunities for themselves and for the Armenian awareness.
Are there any projects you are working on now?
Yes. I’m filming two new Armenian films which will be filmed in Armenia in 2024. I’m also releasing my new piano album around the same time. However, I’m now planning a brand new 25th anniversary stand up tour kicking off in 2025 taking me to 50 cities around the world sharing my 25 years of doing stand up for Armenians
You’re speaking about every problem in Artsakh and Armenia, criticizing those who are silent… How do you see the solution to these problems, and the future of Armenia?
The solution is to stop being afraid and start talking. Too many people including celebrities are afraid to share their thoughts because of the backlash they might endure. However staying silent is violence towards the injustice that is happening in Armenia right now. The more noise we make the better we will be heard. My ethos is to continue to speak even if no one hears me. The future for Armenia is dilution and disappearance if we don’t start to unite and speak up for the hell our people are experiencing in Artsakh.
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