Eddie Pepitone

Eddie Pepitone

Date of birth: 05-11-1958
Born and raised in New York, cult stand-up Eddie Pepitone came up through the improv scene, and throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s was a regular sketch performer on Late Night with Conan O'Brien – often playing a loud-mouthed heckler. His other credits include The Sarah Silverman Program, Community and Flight Of The Conchords. He was also the subject of the 2012 documentary The Bitter Buddah about his surge in popularity in middle age, while struggling with self-doubt, sobriety, and a challenging family.
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Eddie Pepitone: RIP America, It's Been Fun

Note: This review is from 2014

Review by Steve Bennett

Two years ago Eddie Pepitone wowed those who saw him at this festival with his furious rants at the world’s injustices and eviscerating self-examination, climaxing with a masterful piece of stand-up when he heckled himself with piercing critique of his own fetid life.

The follow-up has largely abandoned that existential self-immolation, leaving his impotent rage singly focussed outward, primarily on the injustices of his homeland, with its war lust and sickening imbalance between the haves and have-nots. That most citizens react to the horror and inequality by scooping gelato into their faces in front of their TVs only fuels his upset.

He expresses the burning outrage within through a series of sketch-like set pieces, envisaging a brutally honest BP advert, for example, or a Vegas lounge singer with a social conscience, or Death Of A Salesman’s Willy Loman trying to sell Daz – a callback of sorts for his 2012 skit describing a failed audition for a washing powder ad.

The subject matter of these is more than a little grim, and while his passion engages the audience, the message overwhelms the comedy. Particularly miserable is him imagining a man with mental health issues addressing the crowd at the Word Cup final, with Pepitone driving home hard the hopelessness of his situation. The juxtaposition of this with the spectacle of a sporting distraction is the only real joke; that and Pepitone’s dedication to ramming the point home.

As the consummate comedians’ comedian, peptic Pepitone enjoys testing the audience in this way as he rips into the ‘vapid conventions’ of the form, such as the soliciting for easy rounds of applause. The loudest laughs in the room consistently came from other stand-ups.

Conversely, Pepitone has no time for those comedians at this festival he considers lesser artists for keeping their work lightweight. The ‘silly wankers’ he calls them, picking up the British lingo perfectly.

Lightness is unlikely to shine deeply into Pepitone’s act, so aware as he is by all that’s wrong in the world. But by barely exploiting his own failings and unhappiness he has lost a vital check against righteous point-scoring, and an crucial strand where so many laughs lay.

A Pepitone show is still a thought-provoking masterclass of impassioned performance and a refreshing fillip against those ‘silly wankers’. But this one does not have quite the same complexity and texture of the last.

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Published: 4 Aug 2014

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Eddie Pepitone's Bloodbath


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