You know when you push yourself that little bit too hard on a long, strenuous run and you wake up with aching muscles in your legs that got just a tad overworked? Me neither, but I can imagine that’s a similar feeling to the way my face feels today after intermittently laughing and blushing hysterically throughout last night’s Abandoman show.
‘Hip Hop Improv’. I mean, that sounds like fun already. Probably a method of entertainment that’s been around the block a few times, but add in the fact that one half of the divine duo is a brilliant Irish comedian, and the other has the prettiest keyboard/synth/weird-gadget-around-his-neck set-up you’ll see outside of low budget 90’s sci-fi, and we’re onto a winner.
How good this act is, however, is damn near impossible to put into words. To adequately express the level of awe inspired by the lightning quick wit and rhyming skills demonstrated by frontman Rob Broderick, one would have to get a tattoo in homage. Or climb naked atop the town hall and shout it out to the world. “ABANDOMAN ARE BLOODY FANTASTIC!”
It still doesn’t do them justice, actually. I heard many, many super-charged punters leaving that gig saying the words “Best show I’ve ever seen”. In fact, I was one of them, driven by the uplifting buzz of genuine hilarity and admiration to capture Rob and his neon-flashing, bouncy-haired cutie of a performance partner, Sam Wilson, in a massive bear hug and babble my lifelong allegiance to their cult. And that was after they mortified the bejaysus out of me, somehow managing to coerce/seduce me into climbing onto the stage and performing a ridiculous high kick as the climax of one of Rob’s audience-inspired rap monologues.
I wasn’t the only one, thankfully. And I wasn’t the worst. But Rob (Sam is a constant, beautifully calm and agreeable, musically gifted Silent Bob to Rob’s gregarious Jay) is charmingly, twinklingly brilliant at dealing with all audience members, from the idiotic heckler to the reserved princess, from the quiet country lad to the wonderfully wacky tree-doctor. After all, the audience is his goldmine; his skill is pulling suggestions, inspirations, ideas from innocent bystanders and turning them into gently abusive rap-ballads of pure, unadulterated, breathtaking genius.
The most mind-boggling aspect of this show is that Rob and Sam don’t stop for air. Sam croons beautiful melodies and nods in agreeable sidekick style, while Rob banters brilliantly with his chosen victim/subject, setting up the next number. But there’s no pause. Tripping directly from the delicate verbal piss-take, which with surgical precision extracts all the weirdest, most original information available from each member of the audience, to the funky, chunky, climactic tune that strings it all together, there just shouldn’t be time for it all to come bouncing and rolling out as it does. When does he actually put these insanely perfect raps together, except literally as they are spilling out of his mouth? What sorcery is this? How does he DO THAT?
Abandoman’s show is a magic show, Las Vegas standard. It’s a lesson in poetry, vocabulary, opportunism and bustin’ a rhyme. Jaw-dropping and viscerally affecting. Bold, ballsy and bewilderingly brilliant. It’s also comedy gold; belly-holding, side-splitting, face-aching funny. Even when it’s you being dragged into the spotlight, Rob Broderick has a knack for making it pleasurable. It’s like being assaulted by a very cheeky but charming Rottweiler. Beautiful, friendly, kinda cuddly, but there’s something not quite comfortable about the proximity. You survive though. And the vague air of danger only adds to the heady feeling of uplifting joy as you leave the venue.
Make it your mission to see these guys. Word on the street is that they enjoyed the Sligo buzz so much you might get the chance again. And if I may give you a tip? Pop something a bit random in your pocket as you leave the house. It’ll come in handy.