The Italian Almanac

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crazy waiter

Italian News - October 24

“Wash those filthy paws before you touch the canapés! The finger bowl’s over there!” The waiter’s impeccable appearance jars with his highly offensive tone. His colleague, though, is extremely polite. It’s a pity about the dandruff on his jacket and the fact that he’s only got three teeth. A third arrives clutching an orchid and shouting, “Carli! Is there a Signora Carli here? Orchid for Signora Carli”.

When one of the diners complains about being served sparkling wine instead of still, a fourth waiter produces a straw and starts blowing in the glass to remove the bubbles. Those present begin to suspect something is going on. Perhaps those tuxedoed types aren’t real waiters. As in fact they aren’t. They’re The Camerieri Pazzi (Crazy Waiters) and by trade they are stand-up comedians.

Since Milan-based director André Ruth Shammath created them more than ten years ago “as a sort of experimental theatre exploring the relationship between fantasy and reality”, it has been fashionable to sign the Crazy Waiters up for conventions, inaugurations, exhibitions, degree parties, birthday parties and weddings. Since the original version was formed in Milan, dozens of copycat groups have sprouted all over Italy, from Turin to Bologna, Rimini and Rome.

Many hosts have tried out these oddball waiters. Among them is the RCS CEO Piergaetano Marchetti, who surprised his guests with comedy waiters at his country home. Other customers include former prime minister Lamberto Dini, footballers Alex Del Piero and Fabio Cannavaro, and Andrea Jonasson Strehler, widow of the great theatre director Giorgio Strehler. How much does it cost? It depends on how many practical jokes there are, and on the kind of customer. Prices start at 300 Euro.