MAHWAH, N.J. (A.W.)—The energy was high and laughs were aplenty as U.K.-based actor, comedian, and pianist Kev Orkian made his New Jersey debut on Sunday. The audience of more than 350 took in Kev’s stand-up and musical entertainment in an event organized by the local Armenian Relief Society (ARS) New Jersey “Shakeh” chapter.
Kev’s journey as an entertainer began during his days as a concert pianist. Since then, the British-Armenian star has been featured alongside some of the biggest names in British comedy and has performed across North America. Kev’s talents were perhaps most famously showcased in the popular television show-competition “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2010, earning a spot in the live semi-final.
Most recently, Kev has been busy preparing his latest project, “The Guilty Tour,” which had its first stop in New Jersey.
“It’s basically my take on what I think life is all about and the guilty feelings I have towards friends, work, family. It’s a comedy based on the tragedies and challenges that I have been through over the past two years,” he said about the tour. Kev joked that these tragedies and challenges range from losing shows and gigs to being stuck in an Indian prison—all of which are included in his latest tour.
Kev has also been busy working on a new film called “Armenia Uncovered” about his homeland and its talented people. “[Director Andy Simon] and I booked off two and a half weeks last August and filmed 17-18-hour days. The whole thing will be about 148 minutes long—a really big, intense documentary, which will be released shortly,” Kev said about the upcoming film.
The film is not merely a travel documentary, but rather a real look into the beauty of Armenia, its culture, and its people, Kev said. “There are a lot of documentaries about the Armenian Genocide, so we didn’t focus on that part of our history too much. We wanted to do something to show what Armenia was like today. We wanted to make something special, and I think we achieved that,” he said.
After New Jersey, “The Guilty Tour” will take Kev to various different cities and Armenian communities across the U.S., including Detroit, San Francisco, Fresno, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The second leg of the tour will include performances in Canada, Australia, and France, before Kev heads to a place unfamiliar to him: Turkey. “I’ve been invited by an Armenian church-school organization to raise money for an Armenian school there,” he explained.
Kev is no stranger to working with Armenian organizations across the Diaspora that are looking to fundraise for worthy causes. “Whether it’s for raising money for a charity, or a school, a church, whatever. I’ll come out and do a show. All I ask is that they fill the seats and enjoy the show,” he said.
Kev noted that working with the ARS in New Jersey has been an “absolute pleasure,” but also admitted that he’s not surprised: “Literally every Armenian organization or association I have worked with have been exactly the same—wonderful to work with!”
Sunday’s event at Mahwah High School began with an informative presentation video about the “Shakeh” chapter and some of the projects it has funded in Armenia and Artsakh over the past few years. They include the funding of the installation of irrigation systems for 30 greenhouses in the border villages of Armenia’s Tavush region and the chapter’s continuing contributions to the joint program between Armenia’s Defense Ministry and ARS Armenia, which provides school supplies to students in the border villages of Armenia.
The chapter also helped fund a rehabilitation center in Artsakh for wounded soldiers and plans to contribute new beds to another rehabilitation center soon to open in Yerevan.
“The ARS ‘Shakeh’ chapter has contributed to almost all ARS programs in our homeland. Members from the chapter also visit [Armenia and Artsakh] regularly,” explained chapter member Pauline Dostoumian.
Last September, ARS members from New Jersey were in Stepanakert for the official opening of the newly built ARS Sose Kindergarten—a project to which they generously contributed. “The chapter also provides financial assistance to large families in Javakhk, mainly those with three or more children,” Dostoumian added.
Dostoumian was a part of Kev’s New Jersey show’s organizing committee, along with fellow members Knar Kiledjian (“Shakeh” chapter chair), Ani Keshishian (chapter vice-chair), Maral Kaprielian, and Maggie Kouyoumdjian.
During his stay in New Jersey, Kev also had the opportunity to visit the Armenian Community Center in Ridgefield and the Hovnanian School in Milford.
“I’m so happy I got to kick off my tour here in New Jersey—an absolutely awesome Armenian community,” Kev said. “I’m also excited to see what the rest of the tour has in store.”
Stay tuned and visit kevlive.com for tour schedules and upcoming shows.