After chatting with Santino Merino in August 2016, I was keen to check out his 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival show ‘You Haven’t Changed a Bit’. The show is a comedic exploration of identity, family and homecoming, recounting the days following his return to Chicago after living abroad in Indonesia for two years.
We were in for a special treat on Wednesday night with the honourable guest, Santino’s mother, in the front row of the audience. This lead to a couple of extra laughs and their interactions were hilarious to watch. Santino, have you considered becoming a double-act?
As a keen storyteller, Santino’s show is deeply personal but entertaining as he laces jokes throughout. The performance also features a number of passionate impersonations of his family; the reimagining of his mother is a particular highlight!
With so many entertaining stories to tell, it’s a difficult challenge to bring them all together and work out which one requires the greatest emphasis. As each story ended, I felt there was more to be heard, and on occasion, either greater depth or additional humour to be drawn out - even if this meant utilising a bit of artistic licence.
With the performance based on his own experiences, Santino needs to match his honesty about his family and past with equal parts humour or pathos for the show’s duration. He finds the perfect balance in the middle parts of the show as he hit his stride at peak confidence. This confidence helped Santino nail his punch lines and added to the impact of his stories. Where his confidence waned, the balance wasn’t quite there and the show lost momentum.
Club Voltaire’s intimate atmosphere suits Santino’s compassionate approach to the show well. If you observe his face as he spins a yarn, you can see how much he enjoys telling his stories and the reactions they receive.
Keen to check Santino Merino’s show ‘You Haven’t Changed a Bit’? It’s on at Club Voltaire (14 Raglan St, North Melbourne) from 28 September to 2 October. Get your tickets here!