HomeCity NewsMexican-Armenian Comic Finds Laughter in the Mix

Mexican-Armenian Comic Finds Laughter in the Mix

First published in the April 16 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

For a young child growing up in a Mexican restaurant-turned-comedy club, Jack Assadourian Jr. recalls the family business bringing him the gift of laughter.
The Glendale-based comedian didn’t always want to follow into the career path that crossed with his parents’ business; however, at one of his lowest points in life, comedy was there for him.
Following Assadourian’s divorce, his father encouraged him to turn to comedy to curb the cost of therapy. Taking the stage in his parents’ comedy club, the Ha Ha Comedy Club in North Hollywood, he found release in developing and delivering jokes on stage.
“It was so therapeutic because I had an outlet to get everything off my chest. I still do this to this day,” Assadourian said. “I have never gone to therapy — this is my therapy. If something is bothering me, I write a joke and go on stage and talk about it.
“The first time I did an open mic, I cried because I wasn’t funny,” he added. “I was mainly crying because I was already depressed, but the more and more I started doing it, I fell in love.”
The journey for this comedian, who is Mexican-Armenian, was like many others in the sense that it didn’t initially pay the bills. He found himself working odd jobs from being a bartender to being a DJ in his spare time, which allowed him to support his family while pursuing his passion.
“I’ve always had a strong work ethic and drive because that’s all I knew,” Assadourian said. “Mexicans and Armenians are both hustlers and that’s what made me a hustler. Those two cultures combined and growing up in the business, it made me who I am today.
“The one thing the comedy club brought to our family was we were always laughing. Growing up as a kid, I remember my parents laughing a lot.”
After about eight years into the profession, his hard work turned into profit for the first time, and although starting off small, it “felt like a really big reward,” he said.
“Comedy means everything to me,” he added. “Comedy is worth more than money right now. I love comedy. I’m the kind of guy that when I walk into any room, I want to make everyone laugh — even when I’m not performing. I love being a comedian.”
Drawing on his Armenian and Mexican heritage, Assadourian prides himself on his relatable comedic style, often pulling from his own life experiences including the cross-cultural intersections he encountered. Not belonging fully to one culture was once a struggle he can now find the humor in.
“Being half Armenian and Mexican growing up was a big challenge for me,” he recalled. “[Neither] group accepted each other. If you went to the high schools or junior high schools over here, Armenians and Mexicans were always fighting. I was always in the middle like a referee.”

Photo courtesy the Assadourian family
Jack Assadourian Jr. (right) with his parents, Jack Sr. and Tere Assadourian, inside the family business, the Ha Ha Comedy Club in North Hollywood.

At his father’s behest, Assadourian attended a private Armenian school to learn more about the culture and language, but the transition was painful since he hadn’t grown up speaking Armenian and was put in a younger class level because of his limited knowledge of the language.
Now, however, he can appreciate his unique family ties.
“Being Armenian and Mexican and living in Glendale was a huge advantage,” he noted. “I’m trilingual so I can relate to both cultures.”
Assadourian said he enjoys seeing a new generation of children who are of Armenian and Mexican descent and are having an easier time with navigating their identity.
Though the comic is touring nationally and is a headline performer, he is still growing and refining his craft.
“I’m trying to get to the next level, and I will not fail. I will not let myself fail,” Assadourian said. “I have mouths to feed. I have people counting on me, and I’m counting on myself, too.”
His wife, Phoebe Oliveira, said his success is well deserved.
“He’s worked really hard at his talent,” she said. “He is one of the most hard-working people I know. He’s had managers and talent agents, but this is really him vouching for himself and that’s really hard to come by. Many people don’t get very far by advocating for themselves, but he’s really done it. I’m very proud of him.”
During the pandemic, the comedian recalled watching popular Middle Eastern comics when he was younger. He identified his half-Armenian upbringing with the people on stage, a welcome feeling when he didn’t always feel represented or accepted. He began dreaming of a venue to showcase Middle Eastern comedians, and his latest project — “Brochella” — was born.
“Brochella” is Assadourian’s version of Coachella, which fulfills his goal of bringing together Middle Eastern comedians. This coming Friday, Assadourian will be joined by an impressive line-up, with Maz Jobrani, Nemr, Mary Basmadjian, Vincent Oshana and Melissa Shoshahi.
“I figured if you’re from Glendale, you know Armenians, Persians and Arabs. They get married every weekend. There’s always a wedding,” Assadourian said. “If you look around there’s about 50 banquet halls in the city and that tells you something — we love parties and we love the whole set up and getting dressed up real nice, the food and getting to know people, becoming like a family. … It’s basically the same kind of style, it’s a wedding, but without the annoying drunk uncle.”
To keep with the theme, the show will also have a wedding cake and dance party afterward.
“I feel like there’s a new generation of comics that needed to be heard and seen,” he said. “Middle Easterners and Arabs, I know we can look angry, but we’re not, we’re really good people and we’re funny people. There’s a market for that and people need to see it.”
Assadourian’s father, Jack Assadourian Sr., fondly remembers his son performing in the family club. Laughing, he recounted that his son would ask him to leave the room prior to his performances. Although Assadourian Sr. would still listen from outside of the room, he said it is moments like those are ones he will never forget.
“It’s every dad’s wish to see their son’s dream become a reality, which makes me very proud of him. I see him doing very well and it is a pride for our family,” Assadourian Sr. said.
“I told him to be a man, and he has become the man he wants to be and his parents are very proud of him,” he continued. “I miss him when he is on the road and doing gigs, but thank god for FaceTime. He always shares with me when he travels somewhere and the place reminds him of me or his mother.”
“Brochella” is this Friday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at the Vertigo Event Venue located at 400 W. Glenoaks Blvd. in Glendale. To learn more, go to eventbrite.com/e/brochella-tickets-262756089537.

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