Anyone who has seen ‘How High’, ‘Doggy Fizzle Televizzle’ or any of Ice Cube’s most recent film work will know comedy and hip hop make for frequent, though not terribly well-matched, bedfellows. So it’s with some trepidation that we approach Dong – a brand new night of “hip hop and comedy fusion”.
However we needn’t be too concerned: organised by the always consistent Knock 2 Bag team and with an impressive opening night line-up, Dong is a unique and incredibly fun evening.
Unfortunately MCing is where things slightly fall down as DJ Big Ted, fantastic as he is at spinning Biggy and Dre tracks, isn’t really one for jokes. By his own admittance he has nothing prepared which means we’re treated to some uncomfortably long silences in between each act.
Once the ball gets rolling though, things move well. First act Fergus Craig is impressively well versed in hip-hop not only to talk about it with confidence and knowledge but also perform some un-cringeworthy pastiches of Lil Wayne and 50 Cent tunes, as well as introducing everyone to the sounds of “hip-hop’s only gay rapper”, ahem, Faggot Bruce.
Newcomer Romesh Ranganathan has the indignity of first being introduced as “the interval”, before having his name mangled by Big Ted. He deals with it well though and with material on his Sri Lankan heritage and stereotypes he quickly steps up to prove himself a natural and confident performer and, in keeping with the hip hop theme, not a bad rapper.
During the first and second half we also get performances from Jenny Bede. Bede’s made a YouTube name for herself through her Cheryl Cole parody video, in which she sings ‘Talk This Way’, an ode to the Geordie accent, to the tune of Run DMC’s ‘Walk This Way’. It makes for a fine viral but as soon as she steps on stage and begins talking into a switched off microphone you know things aren’t going to pan out in her favour. She doesn’t realise or address the microphone issue and bursts into her song at such speed the audience are straining to hear the punchlines. Sadly her second half song, ‘Snoop Dogg’s PA’ suffers an almost identical fate Big Ted points out it’s hard to rap as quickly as she does and while that may be true it’s to the detriment of the performance.
Nick Helm is not very hip hop but his ability to pummel an audience into submission using six jokes, a terrifying poem and a couple of songs with an acoustic guitar means that he gets a great reception from the crowd. It’s perhaps not instantaneous – his brash style always takes some getting used to – but after a couple of minutes he’s hard to resist.
There couldn’t be a better choice of headliner than Abandoman: they’re custom-built for this night. Their ad-libbing skills have been honed to the point of perfection and even their bona-fide hip hop credentials – they’re a cut above most other comedy acts. Their act has always been based on audience interaction, riffing off names, personal bugbears and real life stories before turning them into rap musicals or an Auto-Tuned Kanye West homage. They can win over a crowd with impeccable ease and if that’s “hip hop comedy fusion” then let’s hope for more to come.
Originally published at Spoonfed.co.uk