Review by Danny Gaisin
I can’t recall the source, but do remember hearing an aphorism that stated “If Italians weren’t ITALIAN…they’d be JEWISH!” The ethical similarities; sense of community; kinship; identity and mutual respect are paralleled …even to the point of analogous terminology. This paradigm was again made apparent while witnessing the comedy of CHARLY CIARELLI at Hamilton’s PEARL
The man grew up in this city’s core but attended High School in Westdale—a predominantly Jewish area, i.e. A mangiacake ‘hood. Our young lives equated each other; mine reflected growing up in a primarily WASP & French Canadian R.C. district of Montreal.
A basic premise for storytelling, written or oral has long been: talk about what you know. The sincerity Chiarelli displays can only come from a reality that is unembellished. He punctuates with songs & poetry accompanied by his harmonicas, making the presentation almost spell-binding. He receives the same audience response as any fundamentalist Black church service. We too, were ‘amen-ing’ at numerous & identifiable moments. Recollections of name changes by teachers, scatological terminologies, and demeaning remarks touched home; but Chiarelli’s touchés are bestowed with a twinkle and a smile. The result is a giggle; not a sermon.
His performance is not idiomatically ‘stand-up’, as he uses about five different suitcases as props. They may be seats; curbs; stepladder or in one emotional moment – just baggage. To edify the latter would spoil the effect for future audiences; but suffice to say; it is a ratification of the ‘six degrees of separation’ axiom. Editor Terry claims it might even be as close as two degrees.
Other pre-arranged commitments denied us the pleasure of seeing his entire performance, but Barb & Gary told me he is such a popular attraction that he’ll unquestionably be invited back. We intend to keep that date free! Grazie e buona fortuna; Charly