Luca Cupani @ Just the Tonic, Mash House

Italian comic Luca Cupani's exploration of an unlived dolce vita is a little too tame to make a big impression

Review by Rob Young | 20 Aug 2019
  • Luca Cupani @ Just the Tonic, Mash House

It cannot be easy doing comedy in your second language, yet very little of this gentle set from Luca Cupani is lost in translation. Overall this is a warm hour that's lacking in laughs: not terribly exciting, but reliable enough.

As the title Lives I Never Lived suggests, Cupani is thinking about how his experiences could have been different if circumstance or his smothering mamma did not get in the way. It’s a decent way to structure the show, taking us through his church’s expectations that he would become a priest – a role, it seems, reserved for antisocial virgins – and a quickly vetoed attempt to join the French foreign legion.

Within this narrative are some fairly simple pops at the Catholic Church and Italian military cowardice, and Cupani tells his story with admirable sincerity and self-effacement. A section about Cupani’s attempts with Japanese culture is most successful, not least because he is very informative about the idiosyncrasies of the language. 

The trouble is, there are not enough genuinely funny moments or changes of pace to elevate the show to a higher plane. Meanwhile, Cupani’s style is too pathetic, too nervous, and too consciously playing up to the ‘unlucky loser’ shtick. Rather aptly for this occasionally soporific hour, Cupani includes an idea where he imagines his inert testicles are in a scrotum-starring version of Waiting For Godot. Unfortunately the conceit goes nowhere (Beckett would be proud), and this is true for many of Cupani’s fairly shallow ideas. Lives I Never Lived is ultimately an inconsistent hour of comedy with a few nuggets of joy to be discovered.

Luca Cupani: Lives I Never LivedJust the Tonic @ The Mash House (Just the Attic), until 25 Aug, 3.55pm, £5/PWYW