Stefano Paolini supporting Al Pitcher's Picture Show

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

As a second-generation Italian immigrant, Stefano Paolini understandably bases much of his act on the gap between his parents’ culture and his own. Admittedly, some of this takes the most obvious route of simply mimicking their accents – but he has the vocal talents to pull off these mini-characterisations with aplomb.

He’s also a pretty mean beatboxer, which never fails to please a crowd, and in one of his best moments combines this with a typically playful take on one enduring Italian stereotype, with a gangsta rap song as if performed by a tight-lipped Mafioso.

His is an evocatively light-hearted look at his family and national culture, and what it’s like to be an underachieving thirtysomething still living at home with his quirky parents. It makes the routine more about witty imagry than killer punchlines, so expect an amiably amusing ramble, rather than a comic romp that puts your sides at risk But he’s a personable guide through his own situation, even if the approach is relatively low-key.

When he works away from the personal and in more universal territory, however, the comparative weakness of the writing is more exposed, and the set notably lulls. An observational routine about how to tell whether someone’s posh or not is a stand-out, but the rest is rather ordinary.

Review date: 9 Nov 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Bloomsbury Theatre

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