it was like going to the zoo »-

With Emilia Costantini

Comic: dancing the Cacao Meravigliao I risked suffocation

Nino Frassica, let’s finally tell you about the content of the famous phone call he made to Renzo Arbore, thanks to which he joined his team. What did you say?

“I certify that when I started the TV was black and white, there were no social networks and how could you come out? Via intercom to producers, directors, famous actors or … by sending messages in glass bottles? I grew up on bread and High approval, my school, my light, I was a great admirer. The idea to call Arbore, a number I just found in the phone book, came to my mind when I read that Andy Luotto called him and the showman, after listening to him, called him and then hired him. At that time, there were no cell phones and no real phone, I just left him various messages on the home telephone answering machine. For example, I told him: I am my admirer, and this is my answering machine … counting to three, for three dates … Or: I’m an amateur comedian and I’m not looking for a job … He, intrigued, calls back and says: if you find yourself in Rome, come and see me. I lived in Messina and accidentally pass through Rome the next day.

Love at first sight between you?

«He looks at me and calls out: you look like a Neapolitan… I never understood the reason for what he said, but it was a compliment, the Neapolitans are nice. Certainly Renzo was the one who could understand me better ».

In relation to whom?

“When I was looking for a job, I did not go to Pippo Baudo because the Sicilians were looking for regional complicity and they ask him for help … My was another comedy, similar to the one played by the actors of Arbore and with him, Gianni Boncompagni, Mario Marenco, Bracardi, I started in on the radio, on the program Radio us tooand then on television: Those of the night

to me Everything back!

Where Fr. Antonino da Scasazza plays …

“Yes, he offers me to play that older brother, a character that I knew nothing about, but I immediately agreed: I would say yes, even if he asked me to impersonate an astronaut or a firefighter … But I had to prepare, because the improvisation that Renzo taught, never it is not improvisation. There was no script in his programs, but a plot from which he made his poems. In short, a fascination with live coverage, which, however, once could have made me end very badly ».

What happened?

“During the performances in Meravigliao cocoa, I put a lemon slice in my mouth, which I don’t like while singing and dancing: I was choking, but others thought I was joking, it was part of the scene. Fortunately, one of the technicians realizes that it was not a joke, hits me twice in the back and saved me ».

But your comic book vis, Frassica, where, how and when was born? Who did you inherit it from?

“More than a very witty father than from a mother, but most of all he was born as a reaction to the boredom of the province where I was born, Galati Marina, on the outskirts of Messina. I have always been lazy and liked to organize jokes by idle. My career started as a “joker” in a bar near Suaria: the joke itself is already a form of theater ».

For example?

“During the years of propaganda in which the Christian Democrats searched for votes, they organized trucks full of parcels of gifts that they were handing out in countries. A cheeky way to win voters’ approval. Once upon a time, maybe on Christmas or Easter, I came up with a poster that I hung in the church square, where it was announced that on Sundays you had to be at 9am, taking your ID card with you. A truck was coming with gifts to distribute to the public. The villagers show up on time, a document in their pocket, waiting for “providence”, convinced that they will get parcels… and instead there was me, who and my friends were laughing out loud. Another funny joke, the one in the phone booth … ».

I mean what?

“It was a time in Galati when it often happened that the houses were massacred by acts of vandalism. There weren’t any working anymore, so one day I slipped into the one that was a little less massacred, albeit with a broken phone. I pretend to have a long phone call, someone notices me who, convinced that he has finally found a nice cabin, waits for his turn, there is a line … I continue reciting Q&A with the elusive interlocutor while those outside begin to snort in anticipation … At one point, I pretend to greet my interlocutor, get out of the booth and run around the corner to witness a hilarious scene. Poor people went inside, dialed the number, but the phone was dead … Without realizing the joke, they said: how did he make the call? ».

Other bad things?

“Just outside of town was the Fiumara stream, now dried up, neglected, and reduced to a landfill. We went around with ordinary friends saying that the Madonna appeared right there … and someone believed us ”.

One of the hallmarks of his comedy is the mutilation of words or the overturning of sentences, giving a meaning opposite to the original, typical nonsense: blessed are the last because they will be humiliated …

«My great passion is the theater of the absurd, so much so that as a boy I called my first amateur group at school Hairy singers are children of a bald singera tribute to Ionesco ».

What school did you go to?

“My father wanted me to be a surveyor, I didn’t like him because all the boys went to the institute and the accounting school nearby was full of girls.”

And then: surveyor or accountant?

“For obedience, I went to the first year as a surveyor, I was rejected because I was absent, because in the morning I locked myself in cinemas to watch movies over and over again. Then I moved on to accounting ».

At that time, the cinema visited him not only as a viewer, but also as an actor in many films …

“Starting with the one from Arbore: FF.SS.- I mean, what did you make me do over Posillipo if you don’t love me anymore? What a funny memory. “

But she also starred in a movie directed by Sofia Coppola, Somewhereand in Touristwith Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.

“Yes, the latter directed by a German director with a very difficult name: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck … in saying it, an effort.”

Coppola chose her precisely because he had seen “Back all the way”.

“She offered me a small role, I had to play a cheesy Italian presenter and she thought I really am! Except he didn’t understand one fundamental thing: to play this character on the Arbore show, I was inspired by cheesy American TV broadcasters. In brief, americaneggiavoit was a mockery of American TV and Coppola, wanting to make fun of Italian TV, chose me: a vicious circle.

How did it go with Depp and Jolie?

“I was hired because the director’s mother, the one with a difficult name, was a fan Don Matteo
, a well-known fiction in Germany, and she liked my marshal Cecchini so much. When my son had to shoot some scenes of his film in Italy, he looked for me to pay tribute to his mother and came up with a role for me: the guard who chases Depp to Venice at the Grand Canal ».

How did you feel at international sets?

“It was like going to the zoo, more than an actor I felt like a spectator of what was happening around me and I saw so much exaggeration …”.

What do you mean?

“For Depp and Jolie, a series of security guards that will make the US president jealous and then excessive, disproportionate catering. So many fanatics of “those Americans.”

And which Italian director would you like to work with?

«Paolo Sorrentino. I admire him as a viewer and saw roles in his films that I would like to play. “

Are you tired of playing Marshal Don Matteo?

“No. I would get tired of my role being limited to the military that interrogates the guilty or pursues murderers. Instead, the evolution of comedy is a constant impetus to do things. I like the character of Cecchini in his everyday, private aspect, not as a police investigator.”

Have you had the greatest satisfaction in your career?

«A small medal that I remember with pleasure. It was the early 1980s, I went to Giardini Naxos to attend the Television Directing Awards. For three years in a row I have not been able to enter as a spectator as I had no ticket or invitation and being not known I could not enter without being recommended. But in 1985 a miracle happened. Where they didn’t let me in, many people were praising Nino this evening! Nino! Nino! I became famous on TV and… I was also among the winners. ”

Have you published a few books or have you ever wanted to write your own screenplay?

“Of course! I wrote one halfway between fiction and a sitcom where you improvise a lot. It’s about a lousy ‘gang’, a kind of ‘ordinary unknown’ wanting to steal lottery money … and I called it ‘L’abanda’.”

May 27, 2022 (change May 27, 2022 | 11:43)

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