If you haven’t heard of Wilfredo, he is a legendary cabaret crooner from Andalusia who now lives and performs in London. If the name is new to you, it may be because he is mostly seen on the cabaret and summer festival circuits. He would probably say that you should get out more.
Wilfredo is actually the cult creation of comedian Matt Roper. He is quite a sight, with trousers so high they are in danger of joining Sandra Bullock in space, a rumpled shirt held together with a safety pin, and a habit of drooling and hacking up phlegm. That’s before we even get to the screechy singing, garbled metaphors, scrambled malapropisms, and home baked wisdom that doesn’t quite add up. Wilfredo Comes to Town shows this bizarre persona as remarkably consistent.
After briefly introducing Wilfredo performing in a club, the film then follows him to Abbey Road studios and afterwards out on to the streets of St John’s Wood where he tries to introduce passers-by to his distinctive approach to life. Wilfredo Comes to Town was made by Mat Snead, a ‘typical media type’ as Wilfredo calls him, a filmmaker whose work focusses on bringing cabaret acts into contact with the real world.
Any fan of Sasha Baron Cohen can testify to the hilarity that can ensue when a comedy character meets with the unsuspecting public. Here however, most of the film shows Wilfredo in the studio rather than freaking out men or groups of women walking down the street. Not that this is a bad thing. Wilfredo is a curious creation and you might find yourself hunting down his next show so you too can dodge the free flowing of his over-active saliva glands.
It’s not just the peculiar physical habits and strange look that makes Wilfredo funny. We are treated to a version of Big Yellow Taxi that would make Joni Mitchell pull out her vocal chords in despair, and a few of his own compositions that would ensure she’d then throw them on the nearest Laurel Canyon bonfire for good measure. Then there is the Wilfredian approach to the English language. Common phrases especially take on a life of their own: “Too many people cooking, making broth” and “It’s on my head and shoulders be it” are two that come to mind.
It’s easy to see why Mat Snead thought Wilfredo would make a good subject for a film. His face pulling and eye-popping persona somehow straddles the borders between being hilariously embarrassing and shambolically endearing. If I had one reservation it is that we could perhaps have seen a little more of the man encountering innocent Londoners, but overall Wilfredo Comes to Town is a charming introduction to a unique character.