ROME – Roberto Benigni (search) delivered four minutes of slapstick comedy antics during a live appearance on state television to promote his latest comic film, set against the backdrop of the Iraq war.
Sitting down Saturday night next to the TV anchorman, Benigni took off a red sweater and draped it on the embarrassed-looking man's shoulders. He then ranted in favor of poetry and against war, which he said "makes no sense and is vulgar."
He even delivered some false news for shock value, joking that Premier Silvio Berlusconi (search) had resigned.
Benigni is promoting his new film, "La Tigre e la Neve" (The Tiger and The Snow), a comedy set in today's war-torn Iraq that stars him and his real-life wife, Nicoletta Braschi.
He and Braschi also starred in his film "Life is Beautiful," about a father's attempt to shield his young son from evil in a Nazi death camp. That film won the Oscar for best foreign film in 1998.
But it was the TV comedy antics — now legendary in Italy — that had papers commenting Sunday.
"With his ability as an extraordinary improviser, he took over four minutes of the TV news, giving himself a gift of a long, maxi-commercial" for the film, the Turin daily La Stampa said.
Benigni also told viewers during the live broadcast that he would reimburse the cost of their tickets if they did not like his new movie.