Siani: “My first show at school thanks to the religion teacher Maradona told me: I’m scared” –

from Renato Franco

The actor: as a child I didn’t have a room, I studied on the stairs

«Father works, housewife mother, we lived in a house where I didn’t have my own room, and to study I went to the landing, to the stairs, which was also cooler. Every time I heard the noise from the elevator I ran away so as not to show that I was in the middle of the stairs. And even today, when I hear the noise of the elevator, I start running ». Alessandro Esposito from Naples reached his heights as an actor with Benvenuti al Sud (30 million euros in revenue) and the maximum exposure in Sanremo 2012 (with Morandi) with his monologue to 11 million spectators. But by then he had already changed his surname in honor of Giancarlo Siani, murdered by the Camorra. “I lived in the Spanish Quarter, the news of his death jumped on the news and made noise because not only a journalist but above all a decent man had been killed. It is one of the first public memories I have in mind. Later, when I was 18-19, I still didn’t know if I wanted to do this job, I only had a few amateur shows behind me, and I thought about this tribute. I didn’t realize the impact and power of ​​such a choice, but we also do this job to leave a mark ».

What made you put yourself in the center of attention, to go on stage? “As a child I was already the comedian in my class, not the one who did impersonations of professors and not even the clown of the jokes, I was a boy who noticed the contradictions that surround us and turned them into mini-monologues. The religion teacher suggested me to do a show for the school, he told me that if I did the theater exercises they would take away from my study hours, I agreed immediately, also because I didn’t like studying, I only went to school, as I was really tired of marinating’.

Did irony act more as an accelerator to integrate into a group or as a compensation because he felt excluded?
«In reality, when you make people laugh or get excited, you experience sensations within you that are difficult to decipher by comparing yourself to friends, to the group you hang out with. While they wanted to go to the disco, I felt the need to stay outside and talk. The disco for me was closing, not opening. The quest of the comedian is always to deal with people, the aspect of human relations is fundamental. And today it is more important than ever. The likes of social media can’t be compared to an “I like what you’re doing” looking you in the eye; the quest for the daily like pushes you to do better. You understand it slowly and you can’t wait to be embraced by people: it’s not a narcissistic need, but it’s the irrepressible desire you feel on stage and on set, a spontaneous adrenaline that you feed off of through people .

The first shows?
«I did a lot of improvisation, the shows even lasted three or four hours because I never wanted to leave the stage. Over time I realized that improvisation must not be an element to fill the void of a script, but must be a moment of ecstasy, of virtue. I started from a small place with 80 spectators and arrived at the San Paolo stadium with its 25 thousand people. It was the first time by a comedian in a stadium that people were so confused that they asked where they had to climb over to get in’.

the models?
«Totò’s unpredictability and improvisation, Massimo Troisi’s sense of irony, Eduardo’s dramaturgy – both comic and dramatic – definitely influenced my way of seeing comedy. It was amazing to grow up with their inventions, their jokes, their phrases. I was not even able to come close to their greatness, and I say this not out of humility, but out of clarity … ».

There are those who accuse her of looking too much like Troisi. Does it bother you?

“The greats have left an ideology, a thought, a path, a philosophy. Mine is an instant comedy, an immediate comedy; certainly the dream is to do something that can last over time, but objectively I am nothing compared to them”.

Pino Daniele is another Neapolitan myth.

“He was the one who told me he wanted to meet me, invited me to his house and wrote the soundtrack for me for a movie (The Second Time is Never Forgotten) without wanting any money. I carry in me the days with him, his stories; I met the whole family, I still feel the children; that atmosphere was formative for my growth ».

“Welcome to the South” was a resounding success.

«Claudio (Bisio) and I come from two different schools of comedy; I represent the new Neapolitan school, with a more underground slang; Claudio has behind him the legacy of the Milanese comedy of Dario Fo, Jannacci, Cochi and Renato. That meeting was love at first sight, an amazing alchemy was created, the forecast was 4/5 million euros … It was a remake of a French film, we changed it in the language and then we sold it to the French. As we say, we have made a package, a counter-package and a counter-package ».

Which set was it?

«When I started to speak Neapolitan, Claudio didn’t understand me, he answered with sentences that had nothing to do with it. I followed closely and there were great impromptu recordings. This game between the two of us was fundamental ».

The turning point in your career?

«A phone call from Lucio Presta, who called me to invite me to the Sanremo Festival 2012; the idea was to stage Tre Terrones, a southern development of the three tenors. It would be me, Checco Zalone and Rocco Papaleo. Due to various commitments, the three terrones did not materialize, so I went alone and, using the metaphor of the boat, I made a monologue about Italy, a divided country that needed to be united. That occasion gave me the opportunity to make the audience understand that I was not only Benvenuti al Sud’s actor, but also a comedian to go to the theater. From there, the bar, the responsibility, the attention rose; from there everything changed ».

Is Sanremo the only catalyst?

“It is the most important stage in Italy, the 2020 edition, in the middle of the pandemic, left us with a fantastic behavior of Amadeus and Fiorello. Fiorello is fantastic in all situations, but on the Sanremo stage without an audience, it was Maradona ».

He has made many films with Christian De Sica.

«It is a myth, an icon; the first time I appeared with him, I had the feeling of the Napoli chicken next to Maradona. We are completely different, in the dressing room he loves the cold, I love the heat; I eat before I go on stage, he after. But we are united by the desire to entertain the public: he does not look at anyone in front of a laugh from the public’.

Maradona again. Can’t you Neapolitans move from there?

“For us, Maradona is an example of greatness. I met him, Pino Daniele, Luciano De Crescenzo, I understood that they had a common matrix: the fact of intercepting people’s thoughts even among a thousand contrasts and a thousand problems. Maradona I instructed him as director of a show at San Carlo, before he went on stage, Diego was thoughtful in the dressing room. He said to me: I’m afraid, I’m afraid of disappointing people. Him, Maradona. Still, the thought was always the same, the people. He did not hide his weaknesses and at the same time he was a giant’.

A joke he regretted?
“The joke is great for one simple reason: you give it to the audience, and the audience decides whether they like it or not. It’s the most democratic thing in the world. If you like it, keep it; otherwise, you take it away ».

Are you a public figure, do you feel like a prisoner of the public eye? «I apply a simple rule: if I have bad days, I stay at home, because to be with the public means to be with the public as soon as I step out the door of my house. I can’t complain if someone asks me for a picture or records me unexpectedly with my mobile phone ».

What emotions does politics evoke in you?

“Comedians. The left has the ribs of Di Maio, Calenda, Renzi, Santori … The Pd has more ribs than a dinosaur and let’s remember that the dinosaurs are extinct. We grew up with the myth of the Americans. If there was a problem, you either told your father or the American president. They were the only two who could do anything. Today there are more ducks in Biden’s speeches than in Lake Garda. This lack of references is a disaster. But there is a quote: I hate the word resilience, because since they’ve used it, it’s been a disaster’.

A luxury that he has given himself?

«Buying a house for my parents: what I had wanted for myself, I did it before for them, it was a crazy expense because I didn’t know if my tomorrow would be a success. Now I have reached 27 years of career, but at that time I was not sure that I would last that long. And I don’t want to use the word resilience … ».

For monologues today, it is harder, tighter times, less attention: a photo and a joke that Osho teaches …

“The quick smile is now a process that affects the world of comedy. I think that shows should not last more than an hour and a half, as Americans do, that are compressed, functional, effective; this is the key. In our TV, they thought once monologues of 20 minutes, now after 3 minutes I think you should go. Better 10 interventions of 2 minutes than 20 in one stroke, otherwise we make the shows that make us reflect, that is, people reflect and think: but What am I here to see? ».

24 July 2022 (change 24 July 2022 | 22.05)

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