It’s a dog’s life for Ian and Gino

Gino Fabbri, left, and Ian von Memerty are teaming up for another comedy show. 'Unleashed' will be performed in both Port Elizabeth and East London
Gino Fabbri, left, and Ian von Memerty are teaming up for another comedy show. 'Unleashed' will be performed in both Port Elizabeth and East London

Gino Fabbri and Ian von Memerty have once again teamed up for a brand-new dose of music and comedy as they are Unleashed at East London’s Guild Theatre on October 25 and 26, and at the Port Elizabeth Opera House on  October 31 and  November 1.

After quickly becoming a sought-after music-and-comedy team following the success of Common and Class, the two will take audience through a whirlwind of explosive drumming and piano pyrotechnics combined in musical sequences as they sing, dance and joke their way through the show. 

Centrestage’s Gary Hemmings described Unleashed  as a “multi-accented journey through the world of dogs which will have you howling with laughter”.

“Until you have seen their takes on the different species, from the New-Age Afghan hound to the depressed Basset, you have not lived,” Hemmings said. 

“They dance as if their psychiatrist is missing in action after being trampled at rehearsals and their combined musical skills, with Ian’s renowned piano talents and Gino’s amazing drumming, create music routines that will have you dancing and singing along.

“You’ll be amazed at their ability to swap accents and create new characters within seconds in front of your eyes — with not a single costume change.

“Together they sing with the energy and experience that truly brings music to life.”

Hemmings said crotchety old-timers Jack and Johnny — who stole the last show time around — would make a reappearance by public demand. 

Tickets at R170 (R150 for eight or more) for adults and R150 (R130 for eight or more) for pensioners  are available at Computicket.

Ian von Memerty
Ian von Memerty Ian von Memerty

Q&A with Ian von Memerty

Why are you back doing another show?

For many happy  reasons, the main one being that this partnership had worked so well for the audience and for us.

It feels like we are the ideal foil for each other; a perfect partnership at the perfect time in our careers.

A drummer and a pianist; both comedians; both high energy — and the combination sends the audiences out on such a high.

It is bloody fantastic.

Is this a whole new show or does it have parts of Common and Class?

This is completely new — every line, every song, every dance move, every sequence — and this show was even easier to put together than last time.

We had so many ideas.

The only thing we have brought forward from the last show are the old guys, Jack and Johnny — our version of Boet en Swaer. They were such a hit — literally tidal waves of laughter every night — that they are back by popular demand, but with a whole new set of ludicrous topics, tantrums and tirades.

Why is the show called Unleashed

We were held hostage in the theatre for two hours in Durban by rioting students [in February], so we joked we’d better invest in a dog for security. And with that it was off to the races — now we do about 20 breeds of dogs, each with their own personalities and accents.

For any dog lover — and people who don’t like dogs — this was a huge hit in the two preview shows we did.

It gives us a chance to change characters at lightning speed — and be funny while doing something that all audiences respond to.

From Great Danes to Yorkshire Terriers, from the Africanus township special to the new age Afghan, it is one long howl of laughter.

What’s the biggest difference between Unleashed and Common and Class?

In Common and Class we played one character for the whole show — I was the stuck-up showbiz snob and Gino was the Despatch “doffie” drummer.

In this show we are ourselves, which gives us the chance to bounce off each other as personalities, but also to do these quirky, quick characters and jokes.

We both realised we’re so comfortable working together and that we find each other really funny, so there is an extra layer of trust now.

What are the best and worst things about working with Gino?

Worst things — he is a loskop who is not particularly good at remembering words ... In fact words and chords! In fact, words, chords and choreography!

In fact, remembering anything is a real challenge for him, which means I have to learn both our shows.

He suffers from an acute dose of “monkey mind” — one word and he heads off in the middle of a sentence into his own world to follow this new thought, whether it is relevant or not!

I keep a bag of peanuts and if he gets distracted I throw them at his head.

The best things? This is cheesy but it is true — he is literally one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.

I don’t think he has a mean bone in his body.

And then he is really, really talented and funny.

He cracks me up all the time and is a really, really, really good drummer.

And then his energy and enthusiasm are a constant. 

What do you think Gino would say are the best and worst things about working with you?

I think it would be hard for him to find anything problems working with me, aside from my anal retentiveness, Germanic perfectionism, giant ego, overly sophisticated musical tastes and addiction to the stopwatch.

Other than that, I am pretty easy-going. 

Most people ask where you get your energy. Now you are working with Gino, who is also hyperactive. Are rehearsals exhausting?

Yes and no. Yes, because we both get so carried away with the music or the characters or the moves that we are not very good at taking it easy when we are learning the stuff.

No, because we drink many cups of tea and when we are working together we feed off each other in terms of energy.

Of course we are show business people so people are always thinking, “do they do drugs?”

We are two of the cleanest-living old farts in the business — I am literally a drug virgin and for Gino a second whisky is, like, whoa!

How are you feeling about this show?

Dangerously confident. And I know Gino feels that same way.  

We both have a sense this material is universal and funny and different to anything anyone else is doing.

Our combined experience and instincts are telling us the audience is going to leave having had as much fun as we have — and let me tell you that is a whole lot of fun.

And they are fortunate because they will have had a really great time — but they will not have sweated as much as we have!

Gino Fabbri
Gino Fabbri

Q&A with Gino Fabbri

Why are you back doing another show?

Ian and I have really found our stride after Common and Class — during that first show we were able to focus on our strengths and find the best ways to work together as a proper team.

We were able to test ourselves through trial and error, and now that we have worked together and got to know each nother really well, Unleashed has taken us to another level.

It's a bloomin’ marvellous show!

Is this a whole new show or does it have parts of Common and Class?

It's a completely new show. We threw out the characters for Common and Class and started fresh.

It is more us as entertainers doing what we do best — lots of music, lots of drums and piano.

Flat-out entertainment!

Our musical skills really get a good viewing in this one.

We did, however, do a new take on our Jack and Johnny characters — the two old men — as they were an audience favourite.

They tell us new stories in this show! 

Why is the show called Unleashed?

We came up with that because it fitted into so many things in this show.

It dwells on our love for dogs, for one, plus it ties in to the fact that we were “leashed up” in Durban, when we were held hostage by student protesters over a varsity issue. 

For me this show also represents our partnership really coming of age — we have both been unhooked from the characters in Common and Class and have been able to fly free.

We are no longer leashed to that and it allowed us to explore anything we like to squeeze out maximum entertainment value.

What is the biggest difference between Unleashed and Common and Class?

We are able to do so much more in this show without the constraints of the Common and class characters.

We are now able to morph into whatever we want on stage plus the added benefit is that we may now make the most of our musical skills.

Ian is a phenomenal pianist and I get to smack those drums of mine a lot more!

I do feel that, now that we knew each other so well, we were more comfortable dishing out ideas and trying new things in rehearsals for this show.

More confidence makes for much more creativity and it shows in Unleashed.

What are the best and worst things about working with Ian?

He likes to moan a bit, you know!

And he’s German, for goodness sake — everything in its place!

We have developed a wonderful friendship over this time and his talent is mind-blowing.

It is crazy to think we hadn’t worked together before these shows, because it really is such a good fit.

He has so much theatre experience and it helps with structuring and polishing the show.

One of Ian’s best qualities is that he’s a “doer” — when we’re writing and formulating the show he is incredibly focused; he gets things done with insight and vision.

He has helped me focus and get things perfected. 

What would Ian say are the best and worst things about working with you?

My ADD drives him nuts and I forget my words a lot.

We are very similar in many ways on stage, but one main difference is that I’m most certainly a “Mr No Rules” and I know that messes with his German perfection!

I’ll often go off script and he’ll have to haul me back, kicking and screaming!

It makes for some really funny times on stage.

I’m also a rowdy people person and he prefers quiet time.

He’s always got to wrench me away from the patrons after the show.

One more thing, I'm rock drummer; he's a classically trained pianist ... I'm sure he prays for earplugs some nights! 

Most people ask where you get your energy. Now you are working with Ian, who is also hyperactive. Are rehearsals exhausting?

Holy moley, Ian has huge amounts of energy — he brings so much positive energy to this partnership.

He matches me kilojoule for kilojoule, on and offstage!

Unleashed is like a nuclear fusion!

We have done a lot of rehearsal and yes, it can be exhausting, but we have had some good laughs and it still does not feel like work.

We have great fun together.

Ian is very fit, despite his very, very advanced age. He does tai chi, yoga, Pilates and all sorts of meditation, so I’m trying to not eat as many pies as before.

How are you feeling about this show?

I am very excited about the show as it’s most definitely one of the best I’ve done and I feel that it surpasses Common and Class by a country mile.

It displays our skill-sets  so well — its different, original, and filled with bumper entertainment and audience interaction.

I cannot wait to see how the audiences are going to react.

WIN: Twenty Weekend Post readers can win tickets to Unleashed with 10 double tickets up for grabs in Port Elizabeth and 10 double tickets available for the East London show. To enter, SMS the word UNLEASHED, your name and PE for the Port Elizabeth show and EL for the East London show, to 41893. Free minutes do not apply and errors will be billed. The cut-off for entries is noon on Monday. 

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