Tino Merino, a US native with a family from Cuba and an Australian wife who he met in Indonesia, has travelled a lot and seen the world. But home is where Merino takes his inspiration from in You Haven’t Changed A Bit, a solo hour of storytelling from an up-and-coming comedian.
You Haven’t Changed A Bit centres around Merino’s homecoming to Chicago after a long stint in Indonesia. We meet his Sofia-Vergara-esque mother, his scheming con artist father, a grandmother who may or may not have links to a criminal organisation, and a host of other characters from Merino’s family. The stories are big and bold, and much of Merino’s family history wouldn’t be out of place in a telenovela. While the tales are often about times when his family were at their worst, they’re always told with love and affection.
Merino’s got some skill with storytelling. He fleshes out characters well, giving each one a distinct voice and physicality that’s not only entertaining but makes the tale easier to follow. The pacing of the show is good, and although not every story hit the mark – a section in which Merino plays Barbies with his young sister, for example, felt hurried and was tricky to follow – these were only minor blips in an otherwise solid show. Merino had the audience laughing the whole way through, and he’s confident enough in his performance to keep things sailing smoothly.
You Haven’t Changed A Bit is an excellent comedy festival debut from Merino. It’s a different take on family chaos that will have you chuckling and also wishing that you could go dancing with his mother some time.
You Haven’t Changed A Bit is on at Highlander until April 8
*Disclaimer – I’ve previously worked with Tino Merino at The Improv Conspiracy