Halloween and Nonna Maria!
I had a pretty surreal Halloween. In case you’re wondering what I went as, just refer to my latest Nonna Maria video and you’ll know. In case you don’t know, yes, I’m Nonna Maria’s puppeteer. I provide her with her voice and actions. I channel the little old lady inside me. It helps when I put on some granny panties and walk around, just to help me get into character. Okay, seriously. Here’s a little back story to Nonna Maria.
As random as it would seem, Nonna Maria is not something born out of nowhere but rather an idea that had been festering and has been brought to life. We asked the question – “what can we add to Italian comedy?” Nonna Maria is our answer. I’ve worked a lot with Italian comedians – namely the Calabrese duo Pasquale and Rosina Parmigianno who’s videos can be found easily on YouTube. Their most famous video being the one where they have to turn to OnStar for help and instead get chewed out by the gay OnStar representative. I was behind all the animated elements of those videos. It was fun too do but grew very tedious by the 8th video in which the formula was very apparent ( Pasquale + Rosina + Conflict + Italian Swear Words = Skit ). The greatest thing I had against those videos were that they weren’t mine. I mean, sure, I animated them but the audio was all provided. I had no say in the story, conflict, or development of characters.
Frank Spadone introduced me to Pasquale and Rosina Parmiggiano. Frank is the awesome Torontonian comedian who has found a comfortable space in the niche of Italian comedy. You can find my animated version of one of his songs on YouTube. Frank is really what inspired me to take a look into the world of comedy, starting with Italian comedy. My music video for one of his songs was basically some born from just being a fan of Frank and wanting to help him get his name out there via the internets. I met Frank when I was ushering at a theater in St.Leonard – he was the opening act for the famous Australian-Italian comedian Joe Avati. Frank opened up to night after night of sold out shows to predominately Italian crowd. Years later, Frank would headline his own show and easily pack the place. Check out more of Frank’s stuff on YouTube.
I always remained the dude who worked in the background. The guy who would take your skit and turn it into an animation. I was the Lady Gaga of Italian comedy (holy shit, a Lady Gaga reference). Even now, you really don’t see my face in the skit. I still remain in the background, a mystery. I kinda like it that way. This is what lead to my Halloween costume which was basically me, dressed all in black, carrying around Nonna Maria who was in her Dave costume.
It wasn’t until Halloween that I realized how big Nonna Maria really was. Nonna Maria’s is doing pretty well on YouTube. Her most popular video has amassed over 30,000 views and continues to grow. When you think about it, 30,000 pairs of eyeballs have watched only one of Nonna Maria’s videos. That’s like one Bell Center that’s illegally over capacity. That doesn’t even count group viewings, as I heard of many stories where groups of people get drunk and watch Nonna Maria. However, those were just ways of rectifying it in my head. The real impact of all this hit me on Halloween when people I didn’t even know recognized her and took pictures with her. Even in her costume, people knew that she was Nonna Maria. I heard that it’s also the most popular thing at my former High School. How ironic, it took my 8 years after I graduated to finally be the most popular thing at High School. The most surreal thing was running into someone at the Halloween party dressed as Nonna Maria. Not sure what to make of it when you meet someone dressed as one of your characters. I’ve never really dealt with this amount of success before. It feels a little dangerous. Almost as if something wrong can veer it in the wrong direction. Either way, I’m learning bit by bit.
One thing I can’t get over is the fans. The fans are awesome. Consisting mostly of High School students, they repeat Nonna Maria’s most famous phrases with such ease. They know every video, some of them by heart. One girl told me how she watches Nonna Maria to cheer her up. My friend’s nephew (who’s a little over 1) recites her most famous quotes while he’s in the bath. This all takes me back to when Nonna Maria was just an idea and down on a piece of paper I had the question – “What do you want to accomplish with Nonna Maria?” I wrote down, “I want to make people laugh.”
That was it, simply enough, I wanted to make people laugh and add just that little bit of happiness to their day. After what I witnessed on Halloween it seems I’m well on my to accomplishing that. Also, I’ve proven to myself that if you really do what you love the most, the rest will fall into place. Thank you everyone who’s watched a Nonna Maria, sent it to a friend, got drunk and watched it in a group, told me how much you love Nonna Maria, told me how sexy you think Dave looks as Nonna Maria, sent me comments, suggestions, anything. I love hearing from the fans!!
Thanks again and as Nonna Maria would say, ” I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you!”