Never have the dual interpretations of MC melded together so fluidly as in Rob Broderick, the leading light of Abandoman. As a rapper, Broderick never misses a beat in his improvisation, spouting lyrics with seemingly effortless style. As a compère, he knows exactly how to work the room, finding common ground between audience members and picking people out from the furthest reaches until the large theatre style venue has the intimate feel of a much smaller room.
The show is visually impressive; the video screens provide a filmic edge whilst impressive lighting, and, of course, booming music add to the rap-megastar feel of the show.
This is musical comedy, but not like you’ve ever seen it before – it is comedy rap music entirely improvised based on audience interaction and it is more alike to compèring than stand up or conventional, rehearsed musical acts. One of the great things about the show is that when he asks an audience member a standard question - “what do you do?” for example - he is really listening to the answer, crucial as it is to creating the intricate musical number that is to follow. Not once do you get the feeling, as is unfortunately the case with many comics, that he is simply waiting to make a joke and bring attention back to the stage – the audience is as much a part of the show as the band.
Broderick is a charismatic performer whose lyrics come thick and fast, often hitting on a strong joke and never faltering in delivery. The jokes themselves might be a little simplistic (one of the problems with audience led improv is that it often gets very blue, very quickly) and the improvisational structure is overtly formulaic, in some cases simply a case of inserting the relevant keywords into a pre-existing song. This said, the performance is convincing enough that you get swept along with it.
It’s not all about Broderick as a performer, though. The show is visually impressive; the video screens provide a filmic edge whilst impressive lighting, and, of course, booming music add to the rap-megastar feel of the show. His supporting band on guitar and keyboards play with acute skill, and they’re own improvisation was slick and sharp.
A background knowledge of rap would certainly improve enjoyment of the show – the conceit that P Diddy has hired the band to create the perfect love song or be put to death is broadly funny, but would carry more weight if the viewer had more than a cursory knowledge of Diddy himself. Jokes about specific rappers like Rick Ross, as well as a song that appeared to be a send up of Stan by Eminem proved a little niche, but provided a nice extra layer to the trained ear.