When you have the opportunity to see an elderly man play Italian folk tunes on a leaf, you know you're living in a special world.
Last night, on the stage of the Canadian National Museum of Nature, the 2nd annual Ottawa Italian Community Talent Show took place. Showcasing some of the finest talents in the community like myself, the event brought together some powerful contenders for best Italian-affiliated showman (or woman) in our fair nation's capital. I threw together a quaint little Italian number with my girlfriend (who learned the Italian lyrics in a day and a half) called "Siamo la coppia piu' bella del mondo," or "We are the most beautiful couple in the world." I won't go into how the song really spoke true to us or how the crowd fawned and sighed at our attractiveness on the stage. What I will say is this:
An old man playing a leaf.
You know how, as a child, you used to pick a thick blade of grass, hold it between your thumbs and make a piercing squeal by blowing on it?
Picture that piercing squeal playing a tarantella, and that just about sums it up. It reminded me of that talent show on the Simpsons where Milhouse is playing a tune by hitting his teeth and head with a spoon.
That's the kind of dedication this guy had, and you could tell it had always been his schtick, since he was a kid. At family reunions, cottages, bar mitzvahs (well, not so much bar mitzvahs, since he's Italian….but I bet the Jews would eat it up).
"Giuseppe, play 'O Sole Mio' for the bambini."
"Giuseppe, make-a you sound like a trompetta."
"Giuseppe, grampa gonna getta you a nice leaf of basilico, if-a you play la Reginalla for Nonna."
Next year I'm going to play a rousing rendition of the Italian national anthem on my armpit…it should be equally successful.