A hundred new character ideas run through my mind every week. Each time I think of one, I get really excited and rush over to my “idea book” to jot down a basic description, complete with lots of stars, underlines, and meaningless arrows.
Seconds after I lift my pen from the page, one of two things happens. Either I realize I’m subconsciously stealing an idea I’ve seen done, or the hilarious character I dreamt up isn’t all that versatile, unfunny outside of a very specific context. When I do stumble upon something worthwhile, it’s through the most painstaking process imaginable, a prolonged manic episode of fleeting joy and hellish self-loathing.
Thinking up consistently entertaining, original characters is hard. As a writer and lover of comedy, I have the highest regard for those who do it well. Melanie Minichino (The Sopranos, Law and Order) falls squarely among that rare, talented set.
Created by and starring the improv-adept Minichino, The Maurizio Show is completely organic. No supporting characters. No intricate dialogue. No elaborate sets. Just Minichino in a mustache, channeling a character based on her own Italian father. The humor (and the series) lives and dies on her performance, and that leaves little room for error. If Minichino weren’t fantastic, the whole endeavor could have been an absolute flop. Luckily, she is. A cacophony of thick-accented riffs that left me wanting more of the easily distracted, loud-mouthed protagonist, The Maurizio Show stands up. To be frank, and I mean this in the best way, the series evokes memories of Borat’s smartest, most transcendent moments.
Here are three reasons to have an old country visit with this mustachioed man about town.
1. One man (make that woman) show
3. Creative use of a tired stereotype
Creating a character interesting enough to hold viewers’ attention for a single sketch is difficult enough. Creating one that can carry the weight of a whole series, with virtually no support, is certainly a cut above.
Too many web series lag, leaving audiences in the lurch for twenty or thirty seconds between punch lines. Thanks to strong editing, “The Maurizio Show” episodes are chock-full of rapid-fire one-liners that help installments steer far clear of dragging joke setups.
Minichino’s nuanced portrayal of the well-worn Italian male stereotype admirably avoids cliché. Maurizio is an authentic character and it shows.