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The Tirolean American Experience

December 29, 2017

I am not a comedian but I was persuaded recently to give comedy a crack. But of course, being a writer, I wanted to get this puppy down on paper before hitting the stage. So sit back, pretend you are in a noisy, dimly lit “club” with a dingy, tiny corner serving as a stage.

The Tirolean American Experience
(15 Minute Stand-Up Routine)

Good evening folks – my name is Allen Rizzi. I know what you’re thinking – “Madonna, another WOP comic!” Actually, I’m Tirolean…. (pause) What the hell is a Tirolean? We are Northern Italians that are a little Germanic and walk with a limp (Heil Hitler imitation with dragging foot – back and forth on stage twice.)

Seriously (pause) “Abbiamo modi di fare con vostri tipi!” That’s right, you didn’t understand, did you? – “Vee have vays of dealing mit your kind!” (pause)

We are Tirolean and my father was concert master for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra – that’s the one that was in Vienna not in Italy. (pause) When I was a kid of about eight, he thrust his Stradivarius in my tiny hands and hired an old German violin teacher to teach me how to play. Every lesson began with his question: “Und ven you grow up, vat vill you do? (looking sheepish with trembling voice) “I vill play for the poor people und orphans!” (pause) Now I’m poor as hell and no one has ever come around to play me a tune. (pause)

I failed violin, my sister failed violin and my poor brother never even got the chance to fail. My father once said, “How could I have bred three musical cretins?” (pause) Nothing like a little morale booster at the age of eight! But that’s okay – I did learn to cook meatballs!

When I was a kid growing up, I didn’t know anything about Italians or Tiroleans for that matter. I didn’t learn a thing until I was in college. I used to meet this sweet girl before classes in the cafeteria. We sort of started going out and our main entertainment was, of all things, target shooting… You know, with real guns! She was good but I was always better. One day, I met her as usual in the cafeteria but she was with two goons right out of the Godfather, replete with broken noses and double breasted suits. I didn’t know what was going on and I nearly wet myself. Finally one stepped forward and said: “We’se hear you’se pretty good with a piece!” (pause with quizzical look) Finally I replied, “A piece of what?” I thought maybe they were talking about a piece of ass and I certainly didn’t want to get popped right then and there. (pause)

Italians or Tiroleans or whatever are strange. Actually, I was baptized Piccolo Alessandro Eugenio di Eugenio Valentino Von Rizzi Regin. Good Lord, what a mouthful. My mother (not Italian) had the good sense to trim my name down to a mere three names. It didn’t work out well for the saints and Italian hocus pocus but at least it assured that I wouldn’t get beat up in school. (pause) (in character) “Oh, Piccolo, want to come over and see if you fit in this locker?” (pause)

When you have a name that ends in a vowel, you appreciate films like The Godfather. You watch them too much and you start talking like them: “Eh, Bonasera, Bonasera, what have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully?” (pause) My father used to also quote the film, a later scene where Don Corleone visits Buonasera’s funeral parlor. The Don looks at his bullet ridden son and says, (in character) “I don’t want his mother to see him this way!” (pause) My father always broke up laughing before he could get the whole line out.

So, finally as an adult, well actually a semi-geezer, I moved to Northern Italy with my wife to live in the village where my father was born. After telling everyone proudly that I was Tirolean and getting my ass kicked for it, I now just accept being a “paesan.” It turns out no one likes Tiroleans anyway! (pause)

Our little village has only 140 residents but 300 cats. (pause) We live on the border of the Italian and German speaking provinces so when cats come to our door when we’re cooking “pesce” (that would be fish), we often hear a mixture of purring Buon Giorno mixed with the guttural German growl and the threat of another Crystalnacht. (pause) It’s like a feline version of The Godfather III mixed with Schindler’s List. (pause)

But seriously, we love our Italian / German / Craut / Guinea neighbors but they just don’t understand Americans. When Thanksgiving rolls around, we go to great lengths to buy a whole turkey. Our friends ask, “Why don’t you just buy turkey slices? You’re going to slice it anyway! I explain the whole Pilgrim story in Italian. (Oh yeah, that’s a lot of fun!) A half hour later I have to repeat the whole mess. After three tries, I just say: “Enough! I want the damn bird whole!” (pause) (Quizzical look) It actually sounds better in Italian: “Basta! Voglio l’intero maledetto Uccello!” (pause)

We moved back to the states a few years ago and bought a house here in Etowah. (pause) We thought it sounded Italian! (pause) My son said he wanted to learn Italian so I bought him a language CD. After a year, I asked: “How’s the Italian coming? What have you learned?” (pause) “Si, no and stronzo.” Obviously the kid is no Rhodes Scholar! (pause)

When we moved back from Italy, our neighbors used to say, “Hey, let’s go over to the Italian’s house and have some wine!” I would always answer, “Do you know any? (surprised look) I’m Tirolean!” (pause) When they come to dinner at our house, they expect Chicken Parm, Steak del Monaco and other stuff I’ve never heard of. When I say: “We’re having Tirolean capusi – that’s cabbage salad,” they think I’m saying: “We’re having Mongolian pussy!” (pause) Not a great way to start an evening! (pause)

Have a good evening folks. You’ve been a so-so crowd. (pause) (in character) “You didn’t even think to call me Godfather!”

Good night – Gutter Nacht – Buona Sera – and God bless!

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Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at

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  1. So what happened to the lamp shade?
    Keep writing; I’ll keep reading! Nice job. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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