Raffaele Arena, better known as Lello Arena, is an Italian stand-up comedian, actor, and voice actor, who is also a key spokesman, along with Massimo Troisi and Enzo Decaro, for a new Neapolitan comedy sketch
group called La Smorfia that begins to gain its fame in the late 70s.
Lello Arena first meets Massimo Troisi at the age of 13 during a theater performance at the community theater organized by Sant’Anna Church. Arena, inspired by his friend Troisi, dedicates his body and soul to
theater. Together with Troisi and other friends of theirs (among whom, there was also Enzo Decaro), Arena forms a theater group called RH-Negativo, introducing a revolutionary style of theater performance that
incorporates both the Neapolitan farce and the stand-up comedy.
The group, which since then changed its name to I Saraceni and later to La Smorfia, starts to grow thin until 1977 when only three of them – Arena, Troisi, and Decaro – are still remaining. In 1981, Troisi asks Arena
to play Lello, the invasive friend of Gaetano, who is also the protagonist of Troisi’s film Ricomincio da tre.
In 1982, Arena plays the protagonist in Lodovico Gasparini’s film No grazie, il caffè mi rende nervoso and makes an appearance in Troisi’s medium-length film Morto Troisi, Viva Troisi! Then, in 1983, Arena plays
an important role in Troisi’s second feature Scusate il ritardo, in which he acts the part of a man that suffers from mania and neurosis after his girlfriend breaks up with him. For his outstanding acting in the film, Arena
is awarded with the David di Donatello for Best Supporting Actor. After starring side by side with some of the best Italian actors, Arena plunges himself into the world of directing and screenplay writing and makes
his debut as a director with Chiari di Luna (1988).
Then, from the early 90s, he focuses his career on theater while continuing on with film and television.
In 2018, 30 years after his first film, Arena directs Finalmente Sposi, a film starring the comedy duo Arteteca.