Three Great Things: Andy Milonakis

The comedian and actor, whose new film King Knight premieres at Fantasia Fest this weekend, on some of his favorite stuff in life.

Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To coincide with the August 8 world premiere at Fantasia Film Festival of King Knight, a dark pagan comedy starring Matthew Gray Gubler, Angela Sarafyan, Andy Milonakis, Barbara Crampton and Ray Wise, comedian and actor Milonakis shared some of the things that make life worthwhile for him. — N.D

I’ve been making rap songs, basically as a hobby, on and off for the past 15 years. I grew up in an area of New York where there was a lot of low-income housing and at the time everything around there was hip-hop. I had a boombox and I listened to old-school rappers. Initially, I never thought about rapping myself (besides reciting the songs I was listening to), but then I started making videos of myself acting stupid and I thought trying to freestyle badly would be funny. I did that for a while, but when I moved to Los Angeles and I went to a couple of studios, I discovered how fun it is to write a song and record it, and learned the process of making hooks, layering vocals and all that stuff.

I’m loosely inspired by my love of New York rappers, but I inject my own sense of humor into the lyrics. Not every song I put out is going to be well received or get a lot of listens, but the staying power of music is crazy because I can spend two or three hours making a song or a little rap verse and then some people will still be mentioning it more than a decade later. If I do a livestream, or a comedy bit, on the other hand, probably not a lot of people will be thinking about it in the future. Music can have real legs, even on an amateur level. I put effort into making my songs sound great and writing some good rhyme schemes, but also make sure to include the most ridiculous references I can come up with.

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
I love to travel the world, and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations was the show that inspired me to really get out there and learn a lot about different cultures, different places. There’s something so amazing about getting on a plane and going halfway around the world to somewhere different to experience different things. The planet really is not that big. I’ve been very lucky to see a lot of it, and there’s still a lot of it I haven’t seen because I have a habit of returning to places I like, over and over again. I’ve been to a lot of different countries and while I’m out there exploring, I feel like I’m learning. It’s a great way to go through life, getting to experience the world a bit instead of just staying home.

I started watching No Reservations right from when it first aired in 2005. It was so appealing because Anthony Bourdain was not your typical cheesy travel host, he was a wise guy, New Yorker ex-junkie who was really poetic. That’s why everybody loved that show – because they wanted to be there with him in those destinations. The first episode of No Reservations was about Paris, and I didn’t go to Paris for probably eight years after that episode aired, but I still wanted to go to the places he visited. Getting to follow in his footsteps and go to some of the same restaurants he’d been to in different places around the world was really cool.

Andy Milonakis’ tattoo of Anthony Bourdain. (Image via Instagram.)

One time I was on a plane, and before I took off I’d tweeted Anthony pictures from restaurants that he’d also gone to. As soon as the plane hit 10,000 feet, I logged onto the Wi-Fi and I got a tweet from him that said, “Are you going to say hello or what?” I didn’t know what that meant, but then I looked over to my right and all of a sudden realized he was on my fucking plane! He said, “I thought that was you.” I left him alone during the flight, because he was with his family, but once we get off the flight we took a picture together.

I can’t wait till Japan opens up again, as it’s been closed for a while due to the pandemic. I love going to Tokyo. Anybody who hasn’t been there yet should try to go, because it’s such a fun, weird city and it feels like a dream. I love going there. There are so many different sections in Tokyo, so I just go all over. I like to stay for a really long time and also visit other cities. My new favorite is Sapporo. It’s in Hokkaido, in the north, and has a snow festival in February. It’s more of a grid city and is way less touristy.

Japan is just an awesome country. There’s so many cool things to do. The food’s amazing. The people are really polite. Crime is low and you feel safe walking around. It’s just a really cool place.

Andy Milonakis in Tokyo. (Image via Instagram.)

When I’m there, I do a lot of live streaming, mostly day-in-the-life stuff: I’ll walk around, or do something touristy, like go to the top of Tokyo Tower. I’ll go to video game stores, show everybody what they have for sale and maybe buy some old-school portables. I’ll go get really good sushi and stream my dinner, or I’ll go out for drinks, meet random people and keep the screen running for 10, 12 hours in a row.

Featured image from King Knight courtesy King Knight LLC.

Andy Milonakis is an American actor, writer, rapper, comedian, and streamer, best known for his work on The Andy Milonakis Show, a sketch comedy series that aired on MTV and MTV2 from 2005 to 2007. His latest film, King Knight, a pagan comedy in which he appears alongside Matthew Gray Gubler, Angela Sarafyan, Barbara Crampton and Ray Wise, has it world premiere at Fantasia Film Festival on August 8. He has also appeared in such TV shows and movies as Kroll Show, Waiting…, and Adventure Time. (Image courtesy King Knight LLC.)