New comedians at work and the paradoxes of the present

Review and insight. Only when I work am I happy. The work, in its most philosophical and contradictory problems, seen by two anti-actors such as Niccolò Fettarappa and Lorenzo Maragoni

“Working working I prefer the sound of the sea”, said Ugo Nespolo, updating the verses of the Orphic songs by Dino Campana and giving them an installation three-dimensionality on the seafront of San Benedetto del Tronto. Work has returned to the center of debate in recent years, but not so much for twentieth-century factory struggles, industrial pickets or white-collar workers in the conquest of a future built around the corporate desk: work is named for its disappearance, or rather, for the disappearance of workers. Work is no longer just an economic issue, even if the current government speaks of employability and overcoming the basic income, but a complex issue in which desires, passions, dreams, political and ethical choices are debated. THEn a video of the series Troppolitani a few years ago, Antonio Rezza wandered around the employment centers (the employment offices of the time) and with a microphone that climbed around his fingers he asked unsettling and philosophical questions to the people in line: “Work does not deny freedom to the individual, forcing him to go for eight hours where he doesn’t want to?”. Two young authors and performers have decided to enter the debate in a glide, with the timing of comedians listening to reality and with the explosive force of a compositional freedom that is difficult to label.

Niccolo Fettarappa And Lorenzo Maragoni: the first is not even thirty years old but has already shown an important dose of talent with Pocket Apocalypse, a show that projected him towards the InBox circuit award and to replicate on numerous stages; the other, a former academic (doctor in Statistical Sciences as well as director and performer in the Venetian company Amor Vacui), who went viral with his television appearance in Italian’s Got Talent and winning the Slam Poetry World Championship. In short, a well-matched couple, with heterogeneous characteristics and values, and which, with Only when I work am I happy (in this vision in the season curated by Hospital Court to the Herberia Theatre of Rubiera, but also recently moved to Rome in the spaces of Bodywork not), attempts a strange theatrical dissertation on the above themes. The two face the problem from the side they know best, that of creative and autonomous work: who is our boss when we are freelancers? Easy, we are our boss and the abuses, oppression, exploitation therefore come from ourselves. We are not faced with the parody of the inept worker of Fantozzi’s memory who, by overturning the desk, showed an ingenious ping pong table: here the question becomes elusive. You cannot fire yourself, but it would be nice for once to be able to face the moment when you muster up the courage and leave your job: Fettarappa climbs onto the stage balcony and after having fired several times (but with the typical smile of the plastic world, of today’s good social and social relations) returns to destroy the imaginary office of that invisible boss.

Photo Giampiero Fanelli

On the other hand, the Fettarappa worker is nostalgic for the strikes, for the pickets, for the squares colored by blue overalls, ultimately he is nostalgic for the working-class utopia. Hence the melancholy comedy of a very young artist on whom the traces of a certain Roman non-school are evidently visible: in the poetic and theatrical writing, in the scenic and surreal anarchism, in the propensity to inhabit the scene in an unbalanced way, one glimpses the influences of Eleonora Danco, Antonio Rezza, Daniele Timpano. Then there is Maragoni’s attitude, anything but theatrical yet capable of captivating with rosaries of words and images, like one of the small monologues in which, with a minimalist but evocative writing, he explains that one can feel omelettes or skyscrapers. Anyone who feels like a skyscraper is someone who is able to plan their life from the beginning to aim high. So, on this strange evening in which the great, epochal issues (such as the numbers of post-Covid layoffs in the United States) are gutted by a “crooked” theater duo in front of the audience of a small Emilian town, it happens that someone is not to the game: Maragoni asks if anyone feels like a skyscraper – which in such an assembly is like asking who feels better than the others – a young solitary spectator raises his hand, unique among many; from the stage they answer with irony that he is lying to himself and he seraphically, like a faithful in contrast with his parish priest, gets up and leaves the theatre, leaving all the others – the omelettes – quite amazed. Effects of live art of its ability to touch the nerves of life? Or the results of a different expectation on the part of that spectator, who would have liked to be faced with a surgical examination of the theme of work in the twenty-first century and who instead – luckily for us – had to measure himself against two clowns, i.e. the only ones in able to tell the truth beyond reality.

Andrea Pocosgnich

Herberia Theater, Riubiera, December 2022

Upcoming dates in the tour calendar


Only when I work am I happy

of and with Lorenzo Maragoni and Niccolo Fettarappa
in collaboration with Teresa Villa
made with the support of Ferrara Off APS
productive residence Body shops | not
production The Hospital Court

Special mention Forever Young 2021/2022 – The Hospital Court

New comedians at work and the paradoxes of the present – Theater and Criticism