1900
Eduardo Migliaccio (Farfariello), and popular Italian American theater.


With the mass Italian immigration commencing in the 1880s there emerged dozens of Italian enclaves throughout American cities, where inhabitants struggled with the trauma of dislocation by establishing their own institutions: newspapers, parishes, schools, societies, and theaters. The latter outlets, the theaters, had a long history in Italy wherein touring companies traveled throughout the land to perform before local audiences. Much the same pattern was to be found in Italian neighborhoods as immigrants temporarily put aside their arduous and tedious routine for entertaining diversion, especially attracted to comedy.

Without a doubt Neapolitan-born Eduardo Migliaccio (1892-1946), (his stage name Farfariello meant "Little Butterfly") emerged as the most popular and greatest entertainer of Little Italies. He emigrated to the United States in 1897 and got a job in a New York City bank writing to clients in Italy, a task that incidentally caused him to become well acquainted with various immigrant types. This became the indispensable background to his stage specialty, named the presentation of the "macchietta" - character sketches of the songs, dances and absurd situations of a range of immigrant types with which the audience could identify. His brilliant satire of hapless immigrant types, from the braggart to the absurd, brought laughter to Italian Americans and rendered him comparable to popular American comic actor Charlie Chaplin.

Another Italian American popular comedic figure was Sicilian Giovanni DeRosalia whose stage character "Nofrio" was portrayed as a buffoon, a half-wit whose twisted reactions to American mores was his main repertoire. Still other important comedians included Gennaro Amato, Luigi Aguaglia, and Alessandro Giglio.






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