“Oormen is my most gutsy piece”

“Oormen is my most gutsy piece”

Vahe Berberian

Vahe Berberian, a prominent Armenian-American artist, who is a remarkable author in painting, fiction, also a film director, actor and a stand-up comedian, is back in Armenia. The purpose of his previous visit was taking part in shooting comedy film “3 weeks in Yerevan”. This time Berberian is going to present his new stage comedy performance, “Ooremn,” that will take place on July 11 and 12 organized by Deem Communications.  Regional Post talked to Mr. Berberian about his connection to the country, professional principles and future plans.
 

This is your first visit to the New Armenia. What are your expectations from the people of Armenia and specifically your audience in Yerevan?

You have no idea how excited I am to visit the new, post-revolution Armenia! I expect to find the same beautiful, loving people but with wider smiles on their faces and larger amounts of hope in their hearts.

A few years ago, you spent a longer than usual time in Armenia while making the "3 weeks in Yerevan" comedy film. How was the experience different than your previous short trips? How did you feel and what were your thoughts?

Up until two years ago, every time I praised Armenia some people would tell me “Ah, of course, you’re only visiting, but when you live there it’s a completely different story, you wouldn’t be so positive.” Well, after living over three months in Armenia, I can say “I did live in Armenia and I loved every minute of it. It was like being in a relationship with someone that you haven’t lived with. I moved in temporarily and I think now I’m more in love than ever.”

Can you one day imagine yourself living in Armenia? Where would your Armenia home be situated - in Yerevan, Gyumri, Dilijan or other?

Yes, I do see myself living in Armenia. I’ve always wanted to live there at least six months out of the year, but because of all the traveling that I do I’m never ever in the same city more than a few months. If I do move to Armenia, I think Yerevan would be the city, since I am not too crazy about long commutes.

During your first Yerevan performance years ago, it was said that the audience was mainly Western Armenians; but it seems that with time you have gained a wider and a more balanced local-diaspora audience. What measures do you take if any, to ensure that your humor is understood by all Armenians?

You’re right, in the beginning my audience in Armenia was mostly Western Armenian, but now that has changed drastically, and I think the reasons for this are: The fact that I have a huge Eastern Armenian speaking following in Los Angeles has helped trickle the fan base into Armenia. Also, my Easter Armenian speaking fan base in Armenia has had the chance to follow my work on the Internet and be exposed to my humor. Armenians in Armenia have been more exposed to the Western Armenian, and are able to follow the language related innuendos. Of course this applies to me too. I now know my Eastern Armenian public much better than I did years ago when I started.

Mr. Berberyan, This is your first visit to the New Armenia. What are your expectations from the people of Armenia and specifically your audience in Yerevan?

You have no idea how excited I am to visit the new, post-revolution Armenia! I expect to find the same beautiful, loving people but with wider smiles on their faces and larger amounts of hope in their hearts.

A few years ago, you spent longer than usual time in Armenia while making the "3 weeks in Yerevan" comedy film. How different was the experience this time compared with your previous short trips? How did you feel and what were your thoughts?

Up until two years ago, every time I praised Armenia some people would tell me “Ah, of course, you’re only visiting, but when you live there it’s a completely different story, you wouldn’t be so positive.” Well, after living over three months in Armenia, I can say “I did live in Armenia and I loved every minute of it. It was like being in a relationship with someone that you haven’t lived with. I moved in temporarily and I think now I’m more in love than ever.”

Can you one day imagine yourself living in Armenia? Where would your Armenia home be located - in Yerevan, Gyumri, Dilijan or somewhere else?

Yes, I do see myself living in Armenia. I’ve always wanted to live there at least six months out of the year, but because of all the traveling that I do I’m never ever in the same city more than a few months. If I do move to Armenia, I think Yerevan would be the city, since I am not too crazy about long commutes.

During your first performance in Yerevan years ago, it was said that the audience was mainly Western Armenians-speakers; but it seems that with time you have gained a wider and a more balanced local-diaspora audience. What is your strtegy if any, to ensure that your humor is understood by all Armenians?

You’re right, in the beginning my audience in Armenia was mostly Western Armenian, but now that has changed drastically, and I think the reasons for this are: The fact that I have a huge Eastern Armenian speaking following in Los Angeles has helped trickle the fan base into Armenia. Also, my Easter Armenian speaking fan base in Armenia has had the chance to follow my work on the Internet and be exposed to my humor. Armenians in Armenia have been more exposed to the Western Armenian, and are able to follow the language related innuendos. Of course this applies to me too. I now know my Eastern Armenian public much better than I did years ago when I started.

Photo: 100lives.com

You are here with your latest piece, Ooremn. We have witnessed the success it had in the diaspora, what makes this show more unique than your previous ones? What should the Armenia audience expect?

I have been told over and over again that Oormen is my most gutsy piece, and I think there’s a lot of truth to it, because so far it has managed to offend a lot of people. I think this one is far more potent than the previous ones and I love the fact that it has the ability to polarize the audience, especially when it comes to religion.

All comedians have their strategy and approach. Considering this fact, are there any topics you have banned yourself to make fun of? Any taboo topics? If yes, what are they and why? If not, then why not?

The only taboo subjects for me are the ones where I have not found the humor in them. My biggest fear is not the fear of offending someone, but the fear of becoming preachy and complacent.

What advice do you have for young aspiring artists, especially those in Armenia?

I always tell young aspiring artists that the most important thing they can do is to read. You have to read incessantly and gather as much knowledge as possible. Also, never profess to create for yourself. You create for your audience, your reader, your listener and you have to love and respect them.

You are a writer, a painter, an actor, a stage director and more. A true artist. Tell us more about your future short term plans for the next few years. Should we expect another play, a book or an exhibition? Maybe a new film?

I have so many project I don’t know where to start. Of course I will continue with my Oormen tour. There are a whole bunch of cities where I have to perform within the coming months, but I am looking forward to taking some time off from touring and spending long hours in my studio.

I am working on a new series of paintings and hopefully will have an exhibition soon. I have been working on a new novel and I am hoping to finish it in the next couple of months and have it published.

Also, I have a new script that I want to shoot, but of course so much of that has to do with finding financing. Aside from that, I have no doubt that the members of my theatre company will kill me if I don’t stage a new play soon.