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Bite-sized comedy for a bite-sized island | Steve Hili

The show’s title may be self-explanatory, but how it came about is not. Teodor Reljic speaks to comedian Steve Hili about How to be Maltese in an Hour, a humorous twice-weekly show which he’s just launched with fellow funnyman Wesley Ellul

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
1 August 2017, 7:30am
Steve Hili
Steve Hili
First off, what led you to set up Comedy Island? Were there any ‘gaps’ in the local scene you thought you wanted to address (or exploit), and what were your initial ideas when setting it up?

Comedy Island was concocted, as many good ideas are, over a beer.  I am based in London, but wanted to set up something in Malta that could run long term, and Wesley [Ellul] was looking for a project that he could get his teeth into too. We think that the tourist market needs to be offered something a bit more fun, and we think that Maltese are at a point where they are ready to laugh at new and different things –  so hey presto!

What can you tell us about How To Be Maltese in an Hour? What got you going on this project, and what were some of the initial ideas you had for it?

Because of my comedy work, I get to travel quite a bit. Conversation generally turns to “where are you from” and whenever I spoke about what Malta was like with people who had never been, (or had never even heard of it), the reactions would be priceless! 

From the way we deal with politics to the way that the Eurovision is a national obsession. People were stunned! I slowly started to realise that we are a unique little country – and that there was a show in there. I started working on it and spoke to Wesley about it. He loved the concept but suggested some ideas of this own and we took it from there. 

Which aspects of the ‘Malta Experience’ do you seek to tackle with this show? And how do you avoid it just being about cliches?

Both Wesley and I grew up abroad, and I think that enables us to see things from a bit of a different perspective and I think this comes out in the show. We wanted to talk about what it is really like to be Maltese – warts and all. From everyone being related to everyone else, to how we handle our booze, to the reason why there are so many cats in this country. Obviously we touch upon the more “known” tropes too – politics, religion, traffic, and so on. After all, we are talking about Malta! here But none of it is done is a clichéd way, believe me! 

Sean Briffa, Giulia Gatt and Emanuel Tabone perform in How to be Maltese in an Hour
Sean Briffa, Giulia Gatt and Emanuel Tabone perform in How to be Maltese in an Hour
Would you say that How To Be Maltese in an Hour is primarily aimed at tourists? Or can ‘locals’ get some fun out of it too?

The show is aimed at both the tourist and the local market. When it comes to tourists, we hope that How to be Maltese in an Hour will keep on giving, enabling our visitors to recognise (and giggle at) the characters and situations we depict in the show, in the streets of Malta throughout their holiday! For the Maltese audience, there is loads of fun to be had too. Unlike visitors to Malta, our homegrown audience will no doubt instinctively understand the references, meaning they can “get it” on a different level. 

What’s next for Comedy Island? 

We have got a couple of interesting ideas that we are hoping to kick off in Malta in the coming months – ideas that will no doubt get lots of people talking. You’ll have to wait and see!

How to be Maltese in an Hour’s cast includes Sean Briffa, Giulia Gatt and Emanuel Tabone. The show will be held every Wednesday and Sunday throughout summer at Palazzo Pereira, Valletta at 20:00. Doors open at 19:15 on Wednesdays and 18:15 on Sundays. For bookings and more information, log on to: www.howtobemaltese.com  

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
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