This Week in Armenian History

Birth of Karp Khachvankian (January 23, 1923)

Karp Khachvankian, known as the “King of Laughter,” was particularly well-known in Armenia for his comedic roles, which turned him into one of the most recognized Armenian comedy actors from the second half of the past century.

Karp (Karapet) Khachvankian was born in Akhaltskha (Javakhk, in present-day Georgia). He moved to Tbilisi in 1928 with his family and studied at the actor’s school of the local film studio from 1941-1944.

In 1944 Khachvankian settled in Yerevan and continued his theatrical career at the Hagop Baronian State Theater of Musical Comedy, where he would play until his death. He was also the artistic director of the theater between 1984 and 1988. He earned the title of Popular Artist of Armenia in 1957.

His humor, delicate sense of rhythm, emphasis on personality, sweeping temperament, and musicality were elements that allowed Khachvankian to embody various comedic and musical characters. His more than a hundred characters were always a source of laughter for the audience. His characters appeared in plays by Armenian (Hagop Baronian, Zhores Ananian, Aramashot Babayan, etcetera) and non-Armenian playwrights (William Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw, Carlo Goldoni, Moliere, Bertholt Brecht, and many others).

He played in almost all classical operettas, but was particularly fond of Armenian operettas and musical comedies. He appeared in several movie productions of Armenfilm, starting in 1949 (“The Girl of the Ararat Plain,” “For the Sake of Honor,” “Road to the Circus,” “The Oriental Dentist,” etcetera). He staged thirteen plays.

Khachvankian was decorated with the order of Mesrop Mashtots by the government of Armenia in 1998. He passed away on November 23, 1998, in Yerevan.