Stefano Paolini – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Stefano Paolini has any number of vocal tools at his disposal to entertain a crowd. He’s a talented impressionist and an impressive beatboxer, having perfected a technique that allows him to rap and lay down a bassline at the same time.

There’s much to admire in those skills themselves. Faithfully being able to reproduce an Eminem track using his voice alone is certainly a remarkable party piece, and impersonations always get an instant laugh of recognition.

However, as many mimics can demonstrate, there really ought to more to comedy than sounding like someone else. Yes, Paolini gets a laugh out of doing a silly Terminator voice, out of dated Al Pacino and Robert De Niro impressions, or repeating Russell Crowe’s coliseum speech from Gladiator (even though Dead Ringers star Jon Culshaw has made that spoof his own), but where’s the substance?

The answer comes in his wonderful characterisations of his extended Italian family, portrayed as a motley bunch that could populate any surreal TV sketch show.

There’s one uncle with his turgid monotone monologues about electric cabling, another with a nose the size of mainsail, a third who forever boasts about how tough he has it, demanding: ‘What time you wake up this morning?’

It’s beautifully done, with every caricature made flesh, and the writing skilful enough draw out laughs from their personalities, rather than obvious gags. Many a nifty turn of phrase raises the bar even higher, and some neat callbacks add slickness. There’s surely a sitcom here somewhere.

Paolini’s delivery is warm, friendly and effortlessly confident – and if he uses every trick in the book to sustain the energy, who can blame him when he does it this effectively?

Some of the padding around the periphery of Paolini’s routine may appear unambitious to the regular comedy-goer, but he’s undeniably a born entertainer with assured character work at the heart of his ultimately satisfying set.

Review date: 14 Nov 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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