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Umberto and Rudy Smaila

Double interview “A comparison between two generations”

by Elisa Panto

Interview with the famous showman Umberto Smaila and his son, Rudy who for several years now has been following in his father’s footsteps. We met them, Umberto with his accustomed cigar in his hand, and Rudy with his inseparable microphone in his case.

  • Umberto, what would you like your son to learn from your generation and Rudy, what would you like your father to learn from yours?
    U: “Patience, because in our line of business we need a lot. Even me, when I was with the Gatti di Vicolo Miracoli, I was a little bit envious of who went on TV. We waited until it was our moment which came in 1976 with a programme aired on RAI and then in 1977 with the unforgettable show “Non Stop” scripted by Enzo Trapani”.
    R: “My generation has had to go through a very prosperous era into a sudden moment of serious crisis. I’d like my father to learn how to appreciate our ability in communicating very quickly, to be interconnected and to be open to change.”
  • Umberto, are you happy that Rudy has followed in your footsteps and you Rudy, how do you live up to being “the son of….”?
    U: “Yes, I’m happy. I, however, explained to him that in Italy we don’t need singers but we need entertainers, and he’s learnt this. Often Rudy and I work together which is very unusual in the world of show business.” 
    R: “It’s positive because it arouses interest and a little negative because we get compared, but it’s normal to be compared when working in show business, what’s important, however,  is to walk on your own legs.” 
  • Have you got any funny stories about your shows?
    U: “When we work together there’s always a recurring episode. The female audience will only ever look at Rudy and that get’s my back up, a little (ironic in tone, obviously), and I think to myself ‘ hey, why don’t you look at me too?’”.
    R: “ At times one of us suggests a line from a song to the other and we understand immediately just by our facial expressions. Oh, and then he’s always moaning about the volume of my microphone!”.
  • What song is always part of your repertoire?
    U: “Definitely, it’s  “tutto un attimo”, a song I wrote for the Sanremo Song Festival in 1986. It’s still a modern piece that people remember very well.”
    R: “The great Italian songs as ‘Ancora’ or others by Renato Zero, Vasco, Battisti, are all pieces that are enjoyed across generations.”
  • Can you tell us a quality and a fault of each other?
    U:” A quality of Rudy is that he is very professional. Faults? Well, he can get a little touchy, but this runs in the family!.”
    R:” Dad is very generous. Fault? A bit stubborn and touchy.” 
  • In what are you two alike?
    U: “That’s an easy one. We love one another.”
    R:” There’s a vague physical similarity. People at times say that we have the same walk, but that makes me laugh because dad drags his feet!”. 
  • A piece of advice for Rudy? And a piece for Umberto?
    U: “ To never forget what a beautiful and wonderful wife he has, to continue to love her because she is an exceptional person.”
    R: ”Well, maybe to be a little bit more open to change. It’s not that dad is closed, on the contrary, but there is still room for improvement!”
  • You’ve both been guests at a number of events here in Jesolo. What do you like about this location? Will you come back?
    U: “I’ve done many shows here in Jesolo. The first time was when we recorded an episode of Festivalbar. I’d like to come back, also because I love fish from this area, mi son Veneto! (I’m Veneto!).”
    R: ”The hospitality is wonderful, the venues, you can enjoy yourself here. While we’re at it, I would like to announce that I should also be invited, along with my father, for an evening here!.”
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Jesolo journal Aprile 2022

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