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…E ho detto tutto (…And I said it all)

An interview with comedian Roberto Lipari – By N. Yakova

Young, gifted and talented, Roberto Lipari enters every evening into the homes of all Italians as host of Striscia la Notizia, the famous satirical television program broadcast on Channel 5 in prime time. A brilliant comedian, who doesn’t need catchphrases to involve the audience because he entertains them with sharp and intelligent humor. Since his debut in cabaret he has quickly received acclaim which soon turned into a national success. Through a very pleasant chat we met a playful and carefree man who approaches comedy in a serious and professional way.

I believe that comedy is one of the most complicated arts. Because it is made of words, of reasoning, so I take it very seriously. While I take life as a game. Paradoxically, I would say that I live life funnily while experiencing comedy in a more serious way.

It’s true, it seems like a paradox, however if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Comedy matters and it is powerful and Lipari feels its weight and responsibility.

Growing up in Palermo in the 1990s, Roberto Lipari lived through the city’s period of change.

In fact, at that time, the capital of Sicily was going through an important transformation.

The Palermo in which I grew up is a Palermo that, in reality, no longer exists. Like all things and especially in this era where everything is very fast. I don’t know how to describe it. I can say that I was born in a period in which Palermo was dangerous but, as I grew up, the city improved becaming less dangerous.

The notes of “I Cento Passi” (One hundred steps) by Modena City Rambles (a tribute song to Peppino Impastato, who died prematurely because he was against the mafia) fully capture the spirit of Palermo in those years, bringing back the memory of Lipari when the word “mafia” was unpronounceable to anyone aloud.

According to the Sicilian actor, the song “I Cento Passi” is very representative of the pain and promise of Palermo. In fact, since 1992, as things began to change in the city, the people began to acquire more and more awareness.

Roberto Lipari is firmly linked to his culture. It’s a bond that starts from the dialect and its calm cadence to arrive at the rich Sicilian tradition.

 Roberto Lipari Sicilian comedian

His humor brings with it the unmistakable influence of his cultural heritage. From rhythm to language it shapes his artistic voice. According to him the Palermo dialect is an instrument, more precisely it is a musical instrument, so that, when performing, the comedian feels as if he is playing that instrument. The cadence, the rhythm, the tone: everything in his life, as in his art, is imbued with an intense “Sicilianness”. The place made the artist.

I don’t think I could have done this job if I had been born elsewhere.

This strong bond with his culture and tradition clearly emerges from his first appearances in theater and cinema up to his debut as a director in the film “So Tutto Di Te“(I Know Everything About You).

So Tutto Di Te” is a comedy movie released on Prime Video on July 25th, 2023, starring Lipari himself, with Sergio Friscia (Palermitan, colleague and host, together with him, of Striscia la Notizia) and, among others, stands out the great interpretation of the legendary actor Leo Gullotta.

The initial idea that led to the creation of this movie was born after the success of “TuttAPPosto“(All Is Fine), the first movie in which Lipari acted as the protagonist.

In “So Tutto Di Te“, beside the story of algorithms, love and friendship, Lipari, as screenwriter and director, has expertly mixed the old and the new: he has infused the spirit of Sicily with contemporary history, exploring the way algorithms control our lives.

Roberto Lipari

We were thinking of making a new movie that I would direct myself. While chatting we found ourselves talking about shoes. Once we got home, each of us noticed shoe advertisements on each of our smartphones, on Google, on Facebook… So we thought we’d make a movie about this, that is, about the algorithm that collects information to create a world in which our choices are influenced for commercial purposes. The title itself, which seems like a love phrase, is actually a phrase that the algorithm suggests to us. After introducing the world of tradition into the modernity of the algorithm, I was lucky enough that the puppeteer was played by a great actor like Leo Gullotta who gave me an extraordinary performance, and so the movie came to life.

Lipari contrasts human feeling with the AI’s enslaving system and does so by using tradition, that of the Sicilian puppets, to reach a balance and save freedom. Puppet opera is a type of theatre, born around the eighteenth century in southern Italy, developed especially in Sicily. It has pupi (puppets) as actors, operated by “pupari”(puppeters) using strings, and a repertoire usually made up of chivalric narratives but which extends the themes without any limits between farces and folk tales.

The choice of puppets in this context is very significant as they are the metaphor of how we human beings have become and, that is, pawns in the hands of technology, the two-faced monster whose use can be highly detrimental to the ‘humanity’. Before it is too late it is necessary to cut the strings that guide the actions of the puppets and act autonomously by assuming our own responsibilities.

Algorithms determine the choices of all those who use the internet, especially social media which, by recording our interests, bombard users with targeted advertising, painting the virtual world in a more interesting way than the real one, especially for new generations and for those who do not have strong cultural roots and who fear real life.

But in a society increasingly oriented towards the transformation of men into automatons, Lipari highlights the saving role of art.

The only thing I fear is that the moment we accept getting emotional in front of a movie written by AI it could be the end. I would cling to art because in the end AI is a world in which only and exclusively what it produces counts, and there are machines that produce more than us. However, in a world where true emotions and feelings exist, the machine will never be able to compete.

Roberto Lipari’s awareness and satire are elements that are found not only in cinema but which also emerge on stage where direct contact with the spectators and the immediacy of the jokes make everything more magical.

What I feel when I’m on stage I don’t feel with anything else. Because the fact that it only exists in that moment and that tomorrow it will no longer be there makes that moment magical. You can watch a movie over and over again… There are movies from 1940 that seem like they were made yesterday.This is the beauty of cinema. Instead, the beauty of theater is that you experience everything in that moment. I certainly see my future as theatre, a lot of theatre, absolutely.

Nothing compares to the magic of live theatre, each performance is unique for the performer as well as for the spectator. But let’s try to give Lipari the role of spectator, what amuses him?

Everything that surprises me makes me laugh. When, during a quiet walk, you suddenly slip on the classic banana peel. I actually really like the things I don’t do, that comedy that I don’t touch. I really like “nonsense”… Then I really like comedies at the cinema, even if they are increasingly in decline, and then even trash makes me laugh. Every now and then TikTok… Some trashy videos… Let’s say that Italy, from this point of view, produces some masterpieces

Roberto is fascinated by unconscious and casual comics. And yes, Italy, as we can see, produces incredible examples, from TikTok to Parliament! A crucial transition.

And we are forced to laugh so as not to cry at the difficulties that we have always been forced to face throughout Southern Italy. From waste emergencies to fires; from the destination of money for the armaments of other countries; to the laws against farmers, therefore to the detriment of all of us Italians and of our independence. Meanwhile the government responds with the bridge over the strait.

A nice idea from the government which will certainly be useful but will also be useful for electoral numbers as is often done in our country. This happens in the South which is always used as a pool of votes. In fact they don’t say: – let’s build the bridge because it is necessary – but they say: – let’s build the bridge to create jobs -. This way they declare that they are looking for votes. While all other conditions such as cultural awakening or the garbage problem, which has to do with the environment and, even more, with our future, are eclipsed.

It is clear that those who have the burden of managing the life of the country do not have the competence. But Lipari doesn’t blame anyone. We know well that for some time, in Italy, as throughout the Western world, those who hold government roles are not excellent, nor are they chosen for their competence. They are probably chosen for their following or fame, certainly not due to any mastery.

Although the story is easily forgotten, especially when distracted by louder questions, the Sicilian actor continues to entertain by offering points for reflection on our society, on work, on the environment, on the future. The new theater tour entitled “…E Ho Detto Tutto: Quello Che Dissi, Che Dico E Che Dirò” (And I Said Everything: What I said, what I say, what I will say) started last March 15th. Follow Roberto Lipari, find out the next date, get your seat and have a healthy fun!

Roberto Lipari Sicilian comedian

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