Romina Puma used to run a fortnightly Italian language comedy night in London – Il Puma Londinese. I blogged about it in 2014.
She stopped in 2016.
But now she is back with more than one show.
This week, on Monday (tonight) there is The Puma Goes Wild at the Craft Beer Co in Islington. (It’s really more like in Angel).
On the next four Wednesdays, there is filming at the same Islington venue of an Italian-language show for the internet.
And, on 28th November, there is another Il Puma Londinese show at The Colonel Fawcett in Camden.
So I chatted to Romina…
JOHN: Il Puma Londinese ran until October 2016 then stopped. Why?
ROMINA: Giada Garofalo had been helping me with the night and she went back to Italy. I was too tired. I needed a break. And when I came back from the Edinburgh Fringe last year, I said: I’m not going to do comedy any more!
JOHN: But now you’re back again. What made you start again in September this year?
ROMINA: Well, it’s what you like to do and you miss it after a while and you need to carry on. It was a show I did in December 2018 for Radu Isac, the Romanian comic. He had a free slot in one of his shows and asked me to perform all in Italian. It went really well.
JOHN: So Il Puma Londinese is back again in Camden on 28th November with stand-up acts in Italian and in English.
JOHN: But The Puma Goes Wild – The shows in Islington/Angel. They’re not straight stand-up comedy shows…
ROMINA: I wanted to do something different. So I am the only stand-up. The others are all surreal, weird, character, impro, sketch – all other styles. I’m trying to create an English/British following because, before, my audience were mostly Italian.
JOHN: And the Puma Goes Wild nights are in English.
ROMINA: Well, they can perform in any language they like. French, English, Italian, Spanish – any language. If it’s that type of comedy – surreal, impro – people will more-or-less understand in any language. Whereas, with stand-up, you need to know the language.
So far, I’ve always had an improv group who perform in Italian. All the others have been in English, including me.
JOHN: Would mime groups perform in English?
ROMINA: I still haven’t had a mime.
JOHN: What were you doing when you were having a break from comedy?
ROMINA: Recipe videos… Italian recipes online. There are lots of recipe/cookery groups on Facebook.
JOHN: And getting a following?
ROMINA: From America mainly. I was doing it in English. An Italian recipe, Italian cuisine, but in English.
JOHN: Any chance of a TV version in Italy?
ROMINA: Well, as you’ve mentioned it, there is an Italian online TV service based in London – Tele Londra – and this Wednesday in the Puma Goes Wild venue in Angel – we are recording a competition show – Il Puma Londinese Approda su Tele Londra – four episodes with me as MC, all in Italian.
JOHN: A competition show?
ROMINA: Two acts will compete against each other. The audience decides who wins. The final will be recorded on 4th December.
JOHN: Recorded. Not live.
ROMINA: At first, they wanted to stream it all live, but then they were too worried about the signal.
JOHN: Will there be further ones after the initial four?
ROMINA: We will show it to people and see if we can find a sponsor for next year.
JOHN: Other plans?
ROMINA: I am preparing a new stage show.
ROMINA: Well, the title is Freewheeling. It’s mainstream, light, fun. I’ve been asked to do the show in Italy next year, in Turin.
JOHN: Where are you from?
ROMINA: Near Milan.
JOHN: Oh, just round the corner from Turin. That would be your first time performing in Italy?
ROMINA: With a full hour show, yes.
JOHN: Why Turin?
ROMINA: I know a girl who runs a comedy night there and she asked me. I would also do it in London.
JOHN: And at the Edinburgh Fringe next August?
ROMINA: I’m not sure I’m keen on Edinburgh any more. After my last one – It’s All My Mother’s Fault – I… Well, you spend a lot of money just to be in the brochure and it doesn’t really help to get audiences in, so what’s the point? My plan is to go round the UK on my own – various cities – without festivals, getting people in via Facebook and so on.
JOHN: And it’s called Freewheeling?