James Liotta is a young Australian-Italian actor, performer and comedian that had drawn from his Italian heritage the tools of his trade. He had his first experience on stage when he was 8 years old taking part in one of his father’s community theatre productions and grew up refining his acting skills, however his professional career as a comedian started as a result of a friend’s suggestion.
“A friend of mine asked me to perform a solo about the Italian way of life and people liked it!” he reveals.
“I started to write more and more stand-up comedies about my Italian heritage picking on my parents and my nonni: their struggles, the language barriers, all topics many people can relate to”, especially thanks to the heterogeneity of the Australian audience.
His jokes and gags come from real life situations.
“When you do stand-up comedies it doesn’t matter what you are talking about but it’s always going to work if you talk about something that you know or have experienced”, says James. “I take my life as inspiration and look at the funny side of it to create stories.”
Australians look at Italians and they are blown away by how big and fun everything is, and this inevitably leads to the use and representation of some of the most common Italian stereotypes.
“Comedy needs stereotypes which must be exaggerated to make people laugh. It’s a theatre and you have to provide a bit of drama.”
Among them the pinnacle is represented by the “nonni”, who are the stronger and more incorruptible figures of the Italian tradition. “They are the oldest, the ones that speak less English, the ones that invent funny words mixing dialect, Italian and English, they keep the traditions alive. They are also the most honest ones, they don’t care about people’s reaction, they just tell you the truth.”
James is still young and believes he is very lucky to make a living as an actor and a comedian. The gratification of seeing people having fun, even if just for an hour or two and leaving people with a happy experience is something to be proud of.