Fringe Festival favourites Abandoman bring their hilarious show Abandoman: Life + Rhymes on a tour of the UK, introducing audiences to their fictional biopic – of epic proportions. A major audience participation project, the UK tour will headline stages around the country, reterospectively spanning 20 years of an imaginary story. Words by Evie Kissack.

Photo by Tom Barnes.

Cornfield’s Content Editor caught up with Abandoman to get an insight into the incredible and unparalleled material from the hip-hop improv duo.


Hello guys!

Firstly, I’m in absolute awe of your ability to freestyle so rapidly and incorporate any given word into hilarious punch lines! Do you have any warm-up exercises that help to get the creative juices flowing?

Absolutely - before we go onstage we freestyle for about 30 minutes.  Just playing about, throwing ideas at each other.  The other thing that helps is being in the moment and pressure, both of which are present during shows.


Do you find playing at music festivals is really different from performing at comedy venues?

I think there’s a different expectation at music venues.  The expectation isn’t comedy, so when comedy is there, I think the reaction is bigger.  I really like both environments.  We do a lot more in comedy clubs than music venues, so the music venues are a bit of a treat.  They tend to be slightly easier than comedy venues.  Like I said, the expectation isn’t for comedy so they can react in a big way when they find something funny.


Why is it important for you to include the audience in your improv?

I think that the best improv I’ve seen - some of Jason Byrne’s shows from the early 2000’s stand out in my memory - create a vibe and environment where anything goes and the audience knows that they’re a part of this.  I love being in rooms where the crowd is aware that they’re slightly in control of what’s happening.  I think that’s what I’m aiming for - a sort of controlled chaos where the audience can take the gig in any direction they choose.

 
Have you ever been heckled? And if so, what’s your favourite heckle been so far?

When we did V Festival a few years ago, we brought a 7-piece band with us.  We had to sound check for about 15 minutes - getting bass, horns, keys all set up.  For some reason, no one had told the audience this is what we were doing. We’d no idea that they were watching this thinking, “What kind of experimental stuff is this!?”  As I was asking for “More guitar in the monitors” someone from the crowd shouted, “Can I get more comedy in the monitors too?”

Genuinely loved this and it brought the room together (and it also made me realise that he wasn’t alone in thinking this was an elongated performance piece).


Coming from an Irish background myself I know how dry and the Irish sense of humor can be. Do you think your upbringing has had a big influence on your comedy?

I do, but in a slightly different way. I was always playing hip hop music growing up, but didn’t always know exactly what every lyrics meant. As an Irish kid without the internet, there was no way of checking what certain hyper-local references meant, so at times, I was accidentally making up my own narratives that years later I realised were completely incorrect interpretations of songs. From that, I think I started freestyling and creating my own interpretations - as a way of filling in the blanks for lyrics I couldn’t understand. 


How does the creative balance play out in the duo? Is there any kind of brainstorming prep you both do before going on tour?

We spend a lot of time playing with beats in a room - rapping over different varieties of songs to see where the music might take the lyrics. 

Also, for this show, we’ve given it a fictional timeline - it’s set in the 90’s in Ireland, and is a fictional biopic about Sam and myself. The audiences are endowed as being all the people we met along the way, as though the show is a big reunion and we ask them to remind us of certain moments.


So you stand out from the crowd for having such a unique act, where did the inspiration for the group come from?

Around 2008, I decided to take a hip-hop comedy show to the Brighton Fringe Festival. Initially, I wrote about 10 songs. I worked on them for ages but somehow allowed no time to learn these lyrics. On the opening night of the show, I was panicking.  I’d littered the stage with pages of lyrics and had a vague idea of how they went. I then got chatting to someone in the audience about their day. Through mild panic, I improvised a song about it. I then repeated this process until the hour was up. At the end of the show, it was a messy but interesting mash up of chat and freestyle. That’s pretty much how the show started.


Do you have any comedic inspirations? Or any rapping heroes?

As I mentioned earlier, Jason Byrne was a huge comedic inspiration for me. I saw him when I was 17 and was in awe at the way he improvised. I might be wrong, but I seem to remember him doing about two hours in a university theatre, and pretty much riffing for the entire gig.

With hip-hop, my rapping heroes change pretty regularly. Currently Logic is a guy I find incredibly inspiring. His recent album, Everybody, is lyrically incredible.


Finally, could you describe your act in three words?

I can describe it in 7 - a fully improvised hip-hop comedy jam.

 

An incredibly unique act, fusing modern musical references and influences with an exceptionally quick-witted ability. Definitely a must-see to brighten up your month, and the weeks following...

Abandoman comes to Birmingham’s Glee Club 4th Oct. Call 0871472 0400 to book your tickets now.

www.abandoman.com

@abandoman

 

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