The Plot

Six desperate amateur comedians are contacted by their agent – as amateurish and desperate as they are, if not more so – for a soirée: the manager, who has lost all his money on horses, makes up a story and manages to persuade the comedians to pay him in order to perform. The idea is quite irresistible: concealed among the audience of the squalid nightclub where the show is to take place will be a scout sent by Drive In, the most famous Italian variety show of the day, to look for new talents. The six comedians have 24 hours – unfolding scene after scene, in a sweltering heat – to prepare the best sketches of their lives, in the hope of striking it big and turning their lives around at last. Vincenzo Amato divides his time between his overweight and depressed Neapolitan wife and rendezvous with his lover amid fruit crates. Gino and Achille, who bicker about just about everything and everyone, run a restaurant and look forward to firing the manager, should their magic trick prove a success. Nicola Minichino has left Naples and moved to Milan to seek his fortune. Sad and lonely, he loves being cuddled by fellow Neapolitan Vittoria, Vincenzo's wife. Antonio Pesci runs a games arcade but dreams of acquiring fame and breaking away from the circle of favours and organized crime he is caught up in. Zappa works as a deliveryman at the railway station and spends his time chatting with his colleagues (including a young David Riondino) and hanging out at Pesci's game arcade or with his friend Bruno. On the eve of the show, he forgets it is his wife Marta's birthday, and she leaves him, sick of never seeing him. That same night, at the station restroom he meets Isabella, a prostitute who gets him to accompany her to Vigevano, where he becomes involved in a bizarre misadventure. Back in Milan, Zappa finds out that Isabella is Bruno's great, idealized love, but he prefers not to break this secret to his friend. As in the changing rooms of the nightclub the six performers are getting ready for the grand moment, a Drive In scout (played by Mara Venier) really does show up in the audience. Some of the performers will be recruited (Antonio and Vicenzo), others will not, but everyone will get back to a life that has been radically transformed.