Francesco De Carlo moved to Britain just as the UK voted leave in the EU Referendum. He talks about his new show Comfort Zone, his experiences in the UK and why everyone in the world could benefit from stepping outside their comfort zone.
They say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. But what is your comfort zone? Why should you leave it? And what happens when you start this new life?
I was born and raised in Rome and, like every other Italian, each year I cannot wait for the summer to hit the beach and enjoy wonderful wines and cheap sea food. This year, I will spend the entire month of August in Edinburgh, which is a city I truly love but that can’t give me quite the same kind of experience…! Nevertheless, I still think I’ve made the right decision.
I had always wanted to come to the UK because, for a comedian, it's the best place to improve your skills, with some of the best audiences and peers around. I worked hard in Italy so that I could quit my job, leave my home in Rome and move to London. But as soon as I decided to leave my country, the UK decided to leave Europe. Britons voted for Brexit a minute after I voted for a personal Brexit from my previous life. Thank you very much.
All my plans were in danger and I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive. But after a while I recognised that I was in a wonderful position; I was forced to meet new people and challenge the slight misanthropy that had always conditioned my approach to life and had built up a comfort zone consisting of my sofa, TV box sets and other things that it would be inappropriate to list in this article.
Travelling is the best way to grow up because it makes you change your ideas. Specifically, you understand which are the things that you really like in your life and which you like just because they’re habits or related to the culture of your country.
Naturally, there are some minor problems when you are abroad, like the fact that I wake up too early here because you don't seem to have proper blinds on the windows; and I have to learn to drink alcohol every day, given that it’s a form of social activity in the UK. This combination of lack of sleep and daily booze is deeply changing my personality...
But the discoveries in this new life are priceless. I realised that in the past few years I had been surrounded by the same people, with more or less the same beliefs, and the same opinions about what’s good and what’s bad: books, movies, plays and so on. I was losing one of the most important activities in life: disagreeing. I want to disagree. Do you want to disagree? No? You see, we are disagreeing: it's a win-win situation.
I want to change my mind. How can you change your mind if you don't leave your comfort zone?
We are experiencing an historic moment in which the clash between fear and narrow-mindedness on one side and culture and openness on the other side will shape the future and I feel lucky to witness this deep cultural change.
Now I’m living in London, travelling the country and about to take part in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a new show about this wonderful experience that I hope can challenge you to expand beyond your comfort zone. If you’re around, come to see it. If, for any reason, you’re in Italy, go to a random restaurant at the seaside and have spaghetti with clams and a glass of Vermentino.
In either case, I'm sure that you won’t regret it.
Francesco De Carlo performs Comfort Zone at Underbelly, George Square from August 2-28 (not 14) at 21:20. Tickets are available at www.edfringe.com.