Giacomo Poretti: "I thought Tafazzi was a failure, Veltroni made me change my mind. Right-wing comedians? There aren't any"
Giacomo Poretti from Busto Garolfo, 67 years old, Giacomino for the registry office ("At the baptism the priest said to my father: this here does not exceed a meter and a half, we register it with the final ino") we meet him at Cascina Cuccagna, Porta Roman, obviously Milan. A few tens of meters away is the Oscar Theater, which with great foresight he took over and opened just before they closed Italy due to Covid.
He is the man who - in spite of himself, as he will later explain to us - invented the symbol of left-wing masochism: Tafazzi. And Giacomo certainly comes from the left, even if today he is closer to the Catholic world.
Giacomo, is it true that even comedians (as well as writers, actors, directors, singers, etc.) are all leftists? Is there also the hegemony of laughter?
"Partially yes. But there was no abuse. If the successful comedians are all from the left, perhaps it is because the right has not been able to produce anything better.
Giacomo, shall we start with the Derby in via Monte Rosa in Milan?
“Let's start with the Derby. My two partners, Aldo and Giovanni, and I have just recorded a documentary about the Derby. Rai will broadcast it in the autumn”.
Very early sixties: who was there?
“Gaber, Jannacci, Dario Fo, Strehler, Vanoni, Toffolo, Andreasi, Faletti, Cochi and Renato, Paolo Rossi, Franco Nebbia...”.
Aldo says that when Franco Nebbia was there you couldn't see anything.
“Ha ha... Aldo and Giovanni had time to work on it, at the Derby. One thousand nine hundred and eighty-two. They performed in pairs, they called themselves I Suggestionabili”.
“I too worked in pairs: with Marina Massironi. We used to make Hansel & Strudel. In July 1986 we auditioned with Arturo Corso, artistic director of the Derby. He told us: well done, we'll get you, start in September. The Derby closed in August."
So you ended up at the Zelig.
Viale Monza. A narrow and long room. Marina and I had a few evenings in the late eighties. Then in 1992 the Trio was born: Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo. But we weren't called that. The first name was insane: Hens old fans good brothers. We made our debut at the Caffè Teatro in Verghera di Samarate, the birthplace of Bossi”.
"The owner of the place, Maurice Castiglioni, he told us: there are one hundred and fifty people in the hall, I make five thousand lire a ticket, the takings are all yours, I'll keep the drinks. But at a certain point we also had to hire a couple of musicians and in short, we were broke".
His personal debut was as lucky as the one at the Derby.
“I had broken my tibia and fibula playing football the day before and I showed up on stage with my leg in plaster. Aldo and Giovanni used the wheel of my wheelchair to imitate the Ruotona della Fortunona ofBack Whole, the program of Renzo Arbore”.
In short: leftist or not, you had to work your way up.
“Hunger, not the mess tin. At one point Castiglioni found me a show in the South and accompanied me on the train because I still had a leg. We were guests of the organizers at the hotel and thought it was all inclusive. We uncorked a bottle that was in the mini-bar and the whole engagement for the evening left us”.
Passion or recklessness?
"Both. One evening in 1987 I went with Marina to Groppello, in the province of Pavia. Disco Chewing Gum. They had offered us six hundred thousand lire, for us it was a huge sum. We go inside and there is hellish music: boom-bum-bum. The owner arrives, turns off the music and announces: here you are Hansel & Strudel. Marina enters and they begin to insult her: Tr... Nu-da! Nu-da! She bursts into tears and runs away from me, who was still behind the scenes. I tell her: 'Don't worry Marina, don't worry: I'll take care of it. Let me do it'. I enter and the audience goes crazy: 'Nano di m... Get out of the bales!'. In the end we go to the owner to get paid and he kicks us out: 'Do you want the money too?'. I ended up at the psychiatrist”.
Success came in the mid-nineties with "Mai Dire Gol".
“Success yes, money no. They gave us 240,000 gross lire in three installments. Giovanni wanted to strike. But Paolo Guerra, our manager, told us: guys, think about it, here you will have crazy visibility".
He was right?
“Yes. One evening, which I remember very well because it was my birthday, I invented the character of Tafazzi, a superhero who bottled himself up on the so-called. We go home and Giovanni says to me: Giacomo, don't be offended, but you played that character there badly”.
What a friend, huh?
“The next morning we had to reach Palermo and we found ourselves at his house to go to the airport. Giovanni began like this: listen Giacomo, my wife who saw us on TV also said it, it's better that you forget it. And I: a friend told me, it doesn't work. Landed in Palermo we receive a phone call: look what's there Walter Veltroni looking for James. Veltroni was, at the time, director of theUnit. She told me: 'What a brilliant idea! You have been able to represent today's left, which hurts itself. Tomorrow I'll publish a piece by Sandro Veronesi' on the front page”.
But had she thought of representing the left?
“But not even in my dreams. But Tafazzi has become the icon of the self-defeating left. And it also ended up on Zanichelli ”.
Is the left still Tafazzian today?
“Well, see her. Where do Renzi and Calenda come from? And the currents of the Democratic Party that argue with each other?”.
There are no right-wing comedians?
"I can't think of any."
Vianello and Fabrizio?
“Another geological era. And in any case they were proof that, if a right-winger is good, there is nothing and no one that can stop him from being successful. The audience decides."
Were there no preferential routes for left-wing comedians?
“Did you hear how long it took, in those years, to get to live? And in any case I repeat: success can only be decreed by the public. Let's think back to the names we mentioned at the beginning, those of the Derby. They are my teachers, the teachers of all of us. And they were all leftists. Did he put them in the party, inside the Derby? Was it the party that ordered the applause? Or was it talent? The truth is, that was an incredible generation."
In your theater, the Oscar, you are staging two shows by Dario Fo: Mistero buffo and Lu santo jullare Francesco. Why?
“Because I have the impression that the left has somewhat forgotten Dario Fo. And I have the presumption to think that the jester still has a role”.
Will laughter bury you?
“I believe that in a moment like this, comedians have the opportunity to play a great role. By making people laugh, they can also communicate very lofty things. They can say things that politics can no longer say. And people listen to them more willingly”.