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Giacinto Palmieri

Giacinto Palmieri

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Giacinto Palmieri: Nietzsche, Women And I

Giacinto Palmieri: Nietzsche, Women And I

At one point in this show, Giacinto Palmieri reminds us of the old adage that comedy equals tragedy plus time. But you have to put jokes in there too… which he where he comes a cropper.

Effectively a break-up story with a few other romantic failures thrown in for good measure, Palmieri is just too dry a guide through these sad interludes from his life, the stories long-winded yarns and with too few laughs to punctuate it. There is a heck of a lot of fat that can be trimmed here, but he’d be left with a ten-minute set.

Oddly, given the title, the whole Nietzsche line doesn’t really need to be in this at all. It may give a thematic link with his last show, which was about Wagner, but these elements, while interesting, aren’t that funny.

There’s a lot of research Palmieri has to convey with the barest minimum of payoff. The main link is that, like our mild-mannered comedian, the German philosopher was a flop with women (no wonder, since he once said: ‘You go to women? Do not forget the whip!’) and from that he takes succour.

So we learn a little about Nietzsche’s failings with women, or his yearning for Lou Salomé, who considered their relationship platonic. Palmieri also includes a letter from Nietzsche to Mathilde Trampedach, who he proposed to after one day. The missive is read out in full – or at least it seems that way – by an audience volunteer with Palmieri offering a slightly grumpy rebuff after every line.

It feels like there’s some intellectual showboating here; mentioning Nietzsche because it sounds smart, not because there are good jokes to be had out of it. One strained line has Karl Marx’s comment about a ‘spectre haunting Europe’ being about Salomé’s string of disappointed would-be suitors. And talking of niche references in place of a punchline, ‘Now I understand Medea!’ is another, which no one in this small audience gets.

It’s not just these sort of highfalutin comments that make Nietzsche, Women And I sound like a lecture. The whole show is laboriously structured, with lots of signposted sections, him outlining exactly what he’s going to do before doing it, none of which helps the flow or contributes any gags.

The show feels over-written as he explores four archetypes of women he’s encountered: his mother, the failed romance, the women who put him in the ‘friend zone’ and random crushes on the impossible to attain.

Palmieri, clearly a nice guy if perhaps a little soft, has been put through the wringer by some of these experiences, especially the long one at the show’s core about his partner having an affair. Pity is not the prime emotional response any comedian would want to elicit, but that’s what he risks, as a gentle man still trying to work through these issues – including a relationship when he was 18 – in his middle-age.

With far too much detail but so few jokes, most of this is performed to a respectful quiet. For Palmieri is not uninteresting. But nor is he particularly funny.

Friday 13th May, '16
Steve Bennett

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