Monday 17th January

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Abandoman. Moonrock Boombox.

| Comedy | 21/05/2014


Music and comedy have always been interesting, and slightly anxious, bedfellows. When they come together, the margins for success and failure often seem significantly heightened. If the audio possesses a vague sense of musicality, and the joke has some semblance of potency, then a good time is likely to be had by those viewing the performance. If, however, the joke lacks a punch or the sound is inaudibly naff, then the whole premise comes crashing down like a house of cards, or a shed of napkins. With that in mind, the nerve-jangling introduction of improvisation into tonight’s mix shows that, at the very least, ‘Abandoman’ have some big cojones.

For music-comedy to work, the lyrics and instrumentals in play need to touch upon the sounds of popular culture without copying them directly. In other words, the best examples of music-comedy are parodies rather than spoofs. New Zealand double-act ‘Flight of the Conchords’ are held in such high regard because they do this particular thing so well. By mixing plausible music with rib tickling content, Brett McKenzie and Jemaine Clement are rightly seen as the kings of this strange genre. I don’t want to bore you with my yawn-inducing theoretical assessments anymore, so it’s about time I tackled some interesting questions. Namely, did ‘Abandoman’ live up to the hype and/or were they any good?

The answer, although it comes with a caveat or two, is that they lived up to the hype and were generally pretty good. Front man Rob Broderick, it has to be said, is sharper than a samurai sword after it’s been to the sword-sharpening salon. Time and time again, he free-styled his way out of conceptual labyrinths using nothing but the information gathered during his highly watchable audience interactions. Rob was ably supported by the band, and they all deserve huge credit for injecting a sense of narrative into proceedings. It would have been easy to just let chaos and randomness takes it’s course, but the idea of a plot, even one as nonsensical as the one on offer, provides a framework upon which the comedic-improvisations can be built.

The flipside to all this, is that inconsistency will inevitably rear its ugly head at some point during the hour-long running time. That’s not to say the boys aren’t bang on their mark throughout, it’s just that the very nature of improvisation means you’re never quite sure whether the next gag will hit the target. This sense that you’re on a rollercoaster ride, upon which anything can happen, is what makes ‘improv’ so popular of course. That being said, when watching these types of performances you do often sacrifice the laugh-a-minute guarantee of something more polished. The whole nature of building a show upon audience suggestions means you’re putting comedic responsibility into the hands of people not trained to carry such heavy goods. ‘Abandoman’ are brilliant at spinning gold from mud, but sometimes mud is just mud.

If you’re looking for something brave, bold, and entirely original, you can certainly do a lot worse than these guys. ‘Abandoman’ are ready to take you on a journey, so why not head on down to the upside-down purple cow to see where that journey might take you. Enjoyable stuff.

By Jack Clayton (@BilboTalk)

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