king of laughter

The King of Laughter

Qui rido io
Directed by Mario Martone
Italy | 2021 | Narrative
133 minutes | Italian & Neapolitan

In Naples circa 1904, Italian theater is thriving, and comic actor Eduardo Scarpetta is the box-office king. Scarpetta was known in the Neapolitan theater for his cheeky alter egos, and his larger-than-life stage productions were matched only by his eccentric personal life. Composed of wives, partners, lovers, and a host of both legitimate and illegitimate children, including famed Neapolitan playwright Eduardo De Filippo, Scarpetta’s home situation often resembled one of his absurdist comedies more than a traditional family. At the height of his popularity, the comedian risked everything by staging a parody of the great Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio. Booed and hissed from the stage by younger rivals, Scarpetta was sued for plagiarism, despite his claim to have had verbal permission from the writer, leading to the first-ever copyright lawsuit in Italy. Despite these serious legal troubles and familial strife, Scarpetta fought not only for his craft but for his legacy as one of the great thespians of Italian theater. Lush visuals and sumptuous costume design make this colorful dramedy a glorious feast for the senses.