It was a cold rainy night and I did ask myself what I was doing going out late on a Sunday evening to see a comedian I had never heard of before. I’m so glad I braved the elements – it was so worth it. At last an honest to goodness comedy show which produced not just polite chortles but out and out belly laughs and guffaws – very therapeutic I have to say. Francesco is Italian and English is not his first language but he certainly has a good enough grasp of it to carry a full show and his occasional mispronunciations and misunderstandings only add to the hilarity. Another famous comic, Eddie Izzard, likes to perform his shows entirely in other languages and would you believe it – there was Eddie himself sitting in the small but receptive audience and laughing away with the rest of us. That is a celebrity endorsement if ever there was one.
Francesco educates us on the national characteristics and preoccupations of the Italians – politics, religion, love, sex, food and laziness and teaches us a few essentials of Italian sign language. He may poke fun at his homeland, its crap TV, its corrupt politicians and its perilous economic situation but Italy certainly beats us hands down on the weather front and the quality of the food – two things an Italian living in the UK finds it hardest to adapt to. There is a bit of surrealism and a lot of silliness, particularly involving hippos, and an absolutely hilarious finale where he describes his new TV show The Emoticons. He is the kind of guy you warm to right away and the intimate venue supports the good rapport he quickly builds with the audience. By the end of the set we had all forgotten about the rain outside and were basking in a little bit of Italian sunshine.
To cap a really good night, can I also put in a plug for an amazing pop up bar which we discovered at the corner of Holyrood Road and the Pleasance called The Bootleggers Bothy. Raymond and Fee have set up shop there during the Fringe and it is a great venue for a drink and a chat and to hear musicians and artists perform. We were treated to a Colombian singer and classical guitarist who just happened to be passing and came in to entertain us while he sheltered from the rain. Only at the Fringe….