Australian actor-comedian-writer Jim Dailakis has a story to tell. It’s a one-man comedy play called “Skitso,” several skits of characters that have made him who he is and have brought him to the Bellmore Theatre. But the story is not solely about him, either, but as much about those in the audience who, like Dailakis, are willing to face the fun – if scary- truths about what makes us all tick and laugh at ourselves – and all at the same time.
“Skitso, coming Friday, October 17, to the Bellmore Theatre, 2222 Pettit Avenue, is also under review by Broadway interests at the moment. Seen at the Stage 72-Triad in New York City, it will be at the Players Theatre rehearsal studio in Greenwich Village after The Bellmore Theatre appearance … all in anticipation of a hopeful Broadway debut – it’s that good! Think Billy Crystal, Jackie Mason, Colin Quinn, John Leguizamo.
“There are actors and there are comedians,” remarked Gary Smith of NYEntertainmentclub.com, which is producing the comedy-play at the theater. “It is rare to find one such as Jim Dailakis who is talented in both disciplines.”
Bullied as a Kid
Dailakis’s story begins modestly enough in Perth, Australia. As a “pretty boy” who had a pretty face, he was picked on constantly by the local bullies. “I was beat up all the time,” he told the Your NewsMag website. At his aunt’s house in Greece – his parental heritage, whom he had never met, he sat beside his two sisters. Auntie was heard to blurt out to his mother, “You have three beautiful girls!”
“I stayed home and watched all the American TV cartoon shows,” he remembers, “to hide from being beat up.” He came to imitate the characters and, suddenly, found himself funny to the bullies. He was spared a beating if he imitated their favorite cartoon characters. Look for Bugs Bunny and Foghorn Leghorn – maybe Batman? – in his skits.
At 13 years old, while peering still deeper into the tv, he came upon his “first and greatest influence,” the martial arts of Bruce Lee. “I took up marital arts, and it changed how I thought and felt about myself.” In high school he was soon challenged by others for his strength instead of pretty looks. He also took up the brute strength mantle of Rocky Balboa from “Rocky,” working out that the gym. “It gave me the confidence I never had.”
His next “first and greatest influence” came in the acting of Al Pacino. “He was so realistic.” Dailakis, who claimed to be the class clown, said Pacino was so mesmerizing and real. So, too, were Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep and others from the Lee Strasberg Institute – where Dailakis studied in his journey toward being an actor.
Feeling he had some natural ability as an actor, the Strasburg classes usually began with 60 students, and whittled down to eight by the end of the semester, he said. “I love the process of collaboration of bringing pretended scenarios to life!” In Australia he joined the Australian Institute of Dramatic Arts, whose members boast Russell Crowe and Kate Blanchett.
Bombed at Standup
Admitting he was “too stupid to wait tables” for a living, in acting school he befriended an Irish-American woman who urged him to try stand-up comedy, because he was “such as stitch” around her. He admits he completely bombed the stand-up opportunity he was given one night. “I think the audience saw my knees actually knocking.” Yet, he came away from the experience with the insight that, in comedy, “nothing is funnier than the truth.”
Writing one or two plays, he came back to comedy to develop the one-man comedy-play “Skitso” as a play about the “love of comedy as an actor.” His life is his truth, with perhaps an added charm all actors live. “I wanted to do something that is funny, but dramatic and inspirational, too,” he said to this magazine. Perhaps most important, he wished to take a chance again – and be scared again – like he was that first time doing stand-up.
From a small boy who was afraid to go out of the house, to a man who can make people laugh because he can laugh at his own truths – scary as they are, “It’s inspiring. If my story can make people laugh I have connected with them, and that’s what matters to me now.”
It made producer Robert Blume laugh, producer of the annual Drama Desk Awards on Broadway and talent manager at Step Forward Entertainment. “Skitso” is under the developmental guidance of Blume.
Tickets for “Skitso” can be purchased at www.nyentertainmentclub.com, or by calling Gary Smith at 785-4234. Or call the Bellmore Theater box office at 783-7200. Tickets are $22.50.