Will Naameh is one of Edinburgh’s most talented and unique improvisers, although you’d be forgiven if you’ve not heard of him before. Perhaps you’d know him better as ‘the posh one’ from Men With Coconuts, or as his hip hop alter ego MC Hammersmith. He introduces the show with the ironic observation of how the venue doesn’t quite embody the hip-hop culture he brings. But before long, the room is whipped into a frenzy through a veritable cascade of ‘MF-bombs’.
Hard not to enjoy and impossible not to be impressed
Naameh presents his show through a carefully crafted character who is a true extension of himself - an ironically posh, immaculately dressed yet foul-mouthed gangster rapper who backs up his skills with a flurry of hilarious improvised lines. After introducing the show, he rolls through a number of different premises for his improvised raps, all of which are based on audience suggestions, and linked together with brief comedic interludes. He starts by having the audience shout out a bunch of random words for him to rhyme, and proves right from the get-go that there is no challenge too obscure. The vast knowledge he possesses to weave trivia and demonstrations of understanding on top of the obviously required rhyming and improv skills are something to behold. He ends this song by dropping the beat and going acappella to form a rhyme to the longest word in the dictionary – a true testament to his craft.
As he interviews audience members for inspiration before each rap, he handles them with respect without breaking character. He sings a romantic ode to a man in the audience, foreshadows personalised future triumphs for three ladies and invites everyone in the room to hold up a random object on their person to incorporate into a perfect meandering number. I’d recommend taking something crazy with you in preparation to keep him on his toes. The speed in which he jumps between rhymes is seamless, thrilling, and almost always gets a laugh.
One easily overlooked boon is the clearly wide appeal the show has. Appreciating rap music is not a prerequisite to enjoy MC Hammersmith. Around the audience are adolescents, people past middle age and a range of cultures too. I enjoyed seeing two head-banging turbans a couple of rows in front of me.
The only disappointment was using the same audience members for three different things in a room of 35-40 people, who all have their stories to tell and may have appreciated a bit more attention. He maturely ends the show at the perfect time, by summarising the events of the day succinctly. After 45 minutes, a more egotistical performer with less appreciation of the value of brevity may have milked it for the whole hour. This show could easily be selling out big venues, and there are similar acts who do. Naameh’s MC Hammersmith is quick, funny, intelligent, well-spoken and never alienates his audience. Hard not to enjoy and impossible not to be impressed, this is an intimate yet riotous show that will provide lasting memories for anyone who witnesses it.