views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Rich Mix
25th May 2012


I'm not a fan of what the kids call today "the hippidyhops". But I am, thankfully, a fan of comedy. Dong, a weekly event at Rich Mix occupies the central Venn Diagram point of the two interests, and whilst it's admirable for doing something different, I can't say it's entirely successful.

Going into a dark, fairly cramped venue blaring hip-hop cranked up to eleven wasn't the best end to one of the most sweltering days this year. Although I now have a decent idea of what it would feel like to be one of Dr Dre's battery chickens on his conveniently-located sun-based farm.

After what seemed like years of aural torture, our Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall salvation came in the form of compere Fergus Craig. Aided by DJ Ted (who displayed brilliant comic timing in playing - and not playing - sound effects, much to Fergus' frustration) his warm-up was pleasing if not groundbreaking, being the first comedian to milk the middle-class-trying-to-be-urban teat for laughs.

First of the night proper was Australian comedian Nick Sun. Doug Stanhope is a fan, and with Sun's pessimistic and cutting humour, it's easy to see why. As he pointed out, he had written new material based around hip-hop. At this point, I worried I would be out of my depth, as I don't really know my Will Smith from my Fresh Prince, but I needn't have worried. His accomplished set ended with a hilariously deadpan, moving into weary, recital of a particularly sexually-aggressive hip-hop song, wrapping up his set nicely.

Next up was character comedian Damien Slash with a tiny but nicely observed piece, in which he read the blurb and reviews of Enduring Love in the style of a garage DJ. While the joke run thin rather quickly, one belly-laugh was to be had, as he went as far as to read out the ISBN.

Following him was The Famous Cardinal Burns Off Their New TV Show. And, strangely, I thought the weakest of the lot. The first half of their set consisted of Burns as an urban beat poet (the third of the middle-class/urban jokings, number fans!) who was again nicely observed, but lacked any punchlines that weren't telegraphed from miles away, other than a lovely bit of playground nostalgia. For the second half, Cardinal joined as a badly-disguised Banksy. And guess what the joke was? Yep, pat on the back if you said "I bet that urban graffiti artist was portrayed as exceedingly middle-class and rather dull, wasn't he?".

Thankfully a much-needed change of pace came with the headline act - the frankly astonishing improvisational music group Abandoman. If you spliced the DNA of every Whose Line Is It Anyway performer except Tony Slatterly, added some Jay-Z, cloned it three times and raised one in Ireland then you'd have ... some sort of weird freak. But you get my drift.

The turnaround from stimulus to response by Rob Broderick, Abandoman's frontman is nothing short of staggering. Their first tune, Things You Have In Your Pocket saw him knit together great rap with excellent humour encompassing subject matter including everything from a hat to a flowery purse to a little green leprechaun statue all on the spot. Another song, about a buff audience member who worked at Costa provided a series of lovely call-backs later in the gig, after Abandoman had given us their take on the Starbucks/Costa/Nero gang war that has blighted our streets.

Whether it was managing to single-handedly win a game of giant Connect Four against two strangers while rapping about it, or chastising a vegetarian who couldn't think of his favourite food quick enough, they rightly took performance of the night. And if I ever have to listen to non-Abandoman hip-hop again, it will probably be too soon.

Dong is a regular Friday hip hop comedy night at Rich Mix.

Nearest tube station: Shoreditch (Overground)

Follow us on Twitter

Leicester Square







performing arts