The Austin Chronicle

Ennio: Fine 'Tooning

By Robert Faires, September 2, 2005, Arts

Austin's comedy scene affords one the opportunity to see many wonderfully funny spectacles – Patsy Cline pulling a hardware store out of her dress, a Mexican-wrestler-cum-action-hero running for president, Star Trek improv – but it has yet to produce a "living cartoon." For that, we must turn to Venice and its uniquely gifted native son, Ennio. A single name for a singular comedic performer. Ennio caricatures dozens of the world's most familiar celebs like a life-sized lip-synching paper doll, sporting large, brightly colored cardboard and paper outfits as he twists his elastic features into stunningly evocative exaggerations of this rock star and that silver-screen legend while mouthing the lyrics to their signature songs. But it isn't simply the accuracy of the impression or the zing with which Ennio stings these cultural touchstones – say, Celine Dion turning into the Titanic, then sinking – that makes him such a sensation onstage. It's the level of surprise he incorporates into these transformations – turning from Pope Benedict into Billy Idol or from Pavarotti into all Three Tenors – using flaps, strings, and his own astonishing skills as a mimic to strip away one persona and morph into another … and another, and another, and another, and keep on morphing for more than an hour. This week, he makes his first stop in Austin, and the UT Performing Arts Center has bravely booked him for eight shows in the B. Iden Payne Theatre. Here's betting that by the end of the week, word of mouth will have folks around here crowding to get in.

Ennio performs Sept. 6-11, Tuesday-Saturday, 8pm, Saturday and Sunday, 2pm, at B. Iden Payne Theatre. For more information, call 471-1444 or visit

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