He will perform this weekend at the Teatre del Mar, in Mallorca, where he will offer three performances of the show he created to combat the rise of fascism
The clown, jester and comedian Leo Bassi (New York, 1952) returns to Mallorca with Oh, Mussolini, work in which he embodies the Italian dictator. Embedded in this historical character, he uses his humor to combat the extreme right. It will be at the Teatre del Mar and will offer three performances: Friday, March 31, Saturday, April 1, and Sunday, April 2.
What do I have to call him: Leo, Benito or Duce?After three years living next to the Duce, following his trail and looking for his story, it is not very clear where Mussolini begins and where Leo Bassi ends, the matter is complicated. I see him with a little more love now than before.
“Mussolini was a puppet, almost a clown”
I don’t know if that’s worrying…yes very worrying [risas]. I have discovered that dictators and fascists are puppets of powers that are behind and that they are the same ones that call themselves democracy. Mussolini was a puppet, almost a clown, which is why I, as a clown, find some similarities with myself. he was a great showman in the hands of forces far greater than himself. I’m 70 years old and I’m Italian and if it wasn’t for the research I’ve done for this show, there would be things I never would have known.He created this show to combat the extreme right.I make my shows based on my intuitions, on my way of thinking, like the fear I had a few years ago of the rise of the extreme right. And I thought what fascism was, Mussolini created fascism and I decided to put on a show and destroy its rise. And I have discovered that things are more complex than I imagined. And there are similarities with today’s reality. There are people who have power and who don’t care if there is a rise of fascism as long as businesses work.
“What is humor if not to remove the fear of things? Even black humor is to remove the fear of death”
He says that fascism is based on scaring people. Is humor the weapon to combat it?What is humor if not to remove fear from things? Even black humor is removing fear of death. A joke at a good time can destroy that fear. Fascists don’t like comedians at all. How many comedians ended up at the stake for a joke that dismantled the fear that others used to control the people?Have you encountered tense situations because of this show?Yes, in Italy they tore up the posters, shouting, because Meloni and others are nostalgic for Mussolini. In Italy you have to be a little brave to do this show, but I don’t lack courage and I laugh a lot at all of this. It’s even more fun when there’s opposition like this. The meaning of doing theater is not just leisure, it is freedom of expression and I like to use theater and believe that it can still have this force.Have you considered doing the Spanish version? Embody Franco?My voice is much more than Mussolini’s [risas]. In Italy, countless times, they told me that I looked like Mussolini, in the way of speaking. Aside from the political dimension, somewhere in my head I knew what I had to do with him. I don’t think he looks like Franco to me, he’s a bit different…What does it mean to return to Mallorca?A lot of things. The first time I performed in Palma I was about 20 years old. I was in Gomila, in Tito’s, in the first discos. I have a relationship with the longest island. And I have performed at the Teatre del Mar on different occasions. It is the memory of my youth, seeing many friends again and it is a small personal party. In front of a Mallorcan public that has always interested me, that typically Mallorcan thing of being proud, that they don’t need to rely on appearances.Going back to politics, what did you think that Ramón Tamames was the Vox candidate in the motion of no confidence?I didn’t follow the matter much, it was very pathetic, I’m sorry to say it for this gentleman. We are on the brink of World War III, with Ukraine, with atomic bombs, and there were more important things to do this show.And that the PP has resorted to an evangelist at a rally?Yes I saw it. I go to South America a lot and, in Brazil, Bolsonaro was supported by the evangelists. In South America, the Evangelists are a right wing not far removed from Mussolini, it is quite a fascist right wing and what the PP is doing is trying to collect South American votes with this, but it is dangerous. Where does freedom end and fascism begin? It’s hard.