|RomaFictionFest programme signed by Jim Belushi|
The afternoon kicked off with an unseasonal, but very, very funny episode from the series - The Christmas Party – which the actor chose because of the many visual gags. This was, of course, perfect for an Italian audience unused to reading subtitles for a show they usually watch dubbed. In fact, Jim Belushi called Massimo Rossi - the Italian dubber who voices Jim in the Italian edition - up onto the stage for an affectionate meeting; Rossi revealed that some episodes were so hilarious that the actors would be forced to record their lines separately because it was impossible not to burst out laughing mid-take!
A multi-talented actor, musician and comedian, Jim Belushi is an enormously charismatic presence on stage – rather than a pure “Masterclass”, the event transformed into “An evening with Jim Belushi”, shifting from gags and stand up comedy one moment, to intimate anecdotes about his brother, the late great John Belushi, and memories of his Albanian-born father, the next. Music is also an essential part of his life and at Dan Ackroyd's insistence, he put aside initial misgivings about stepping into his older brother's shoes and now also performs as Zee Blues in the present incarnation of The Blues Brothers. At one point he even plucked an harmonica from his pocket and gave us an improvised burst of the blues!
As was fitting in a television festival, however, Jim Belushi's love of the medium was clear. Not only is he a TV performer, he is also a fan himself, who described his recent excitement at getting to meet “Batista” and “Dexter” (from the TV series Dexter) at a party. The Tudors, The Borgias and Lost were also on his list of recent favourite shows.
After two hours of sheer entertainment, as a final salute he threw himself to the ground and did a backwards somersault to the delight of the audience who were already on their feet applauding. Seemingly in no hurry to leave the stage he stayed shaking hands and signing numerous autographs.
Watch some highlights from Jim Belushi's appearance at Roma Fiction Fest 2011 – including his blues performance - below (or click here to watch on You Tube).