Last night, a small venue in Alphabet City, called the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (UCB) was host to DJ Cipha Sounds newest comedy innovation: the Take It Personal Improv Show. The show drew slightly over 100 people to a theatre no bigger than a standard racquetball court, yet space was hardly a concern to the smiling faces in attendance.
The guest star of the show was the famously outlandish Bam Bam, also known as Action Bronson. He delivered hilarious monologues that detailed some of his epic knife fights with a few “conflicted” Dominican/Puerto Rican handball players, his peculiar dining experiences at Asian fusion restaurants, and of course his run ins with hood prostitutes. Some might say he was outdone, however, by his partner Big Body Bes. At Bronson’s request, Body jumped on stage to tell the story of his wild escapades with New York’s finest working girls, all for just 40 bucks!
Each of Bronson and Big Body’s monologues were followed by improvised bits that connected to their crazy stories. Performing those bits were some of New York’s brightest young comedians, including Will Hines, Alan Starzinski, Connor Ratcliff, Nick Kocher, and Grant O’Brian of team Hurricane and Shannon Oneal, Abra Tabak, Phil Jackson, Christian Capozzoli, Brandon Jones, and Ryan Karels of Cipha Sounds’ “Tiger Style Wolf Gang” team. The teams turned the stories of wild illicit sex, crack toting babies and Indian dance parties upside down and kept the crowd in constant anticipation of the next laugh. There wasn’t one skit that was rehearsed and yet they all made perfect sense together.
The comedic synergy of improv comedy is what Cipha Sounds has admired and obsessed over for the last year and some change. He was enthralled by the art of long form improv comedy after the first show he saw, much how he was when he was first exposed to Hip Hop. Take It Personal is Ciph’s way of bringing the two worlds he loves together.
The idea came about just as improv does: spontaneously-in a conversation with RZA. “Hip-Hop is free styling. Even when you DJ, you read [the] room and know what songs going to work– that’s improv!” Ciph said. “I thought, ‘Improv and Hip-Hop are similar; I wonder if I could do a Hip-Hop based [improv comedy] show’.” Take It Personal brings Hip-Hop acts, like Action Bronson, to the stage to deliver opening monologues for improv comedy troupes to act off of. Already Cipha Sounds has brought on a number of high profile names for the show, including P.A.P.I. (N.O.R.E.), Talib Kweli, and DJ Premier. He’d like to feature Raekwon, Joell Ortiz, and Joey Bada$$ in upcoming shows, picking acts from across the Hip-Hop spectrum.
Cipha’s choice to bring on Action Bronson last night seemed perfect. The two carried on a light-hearted banter throughout the show, which underscored both their comedic chemistry and their budding friendship. “[Cipha Sounds] a good dude man, I fuck with heavily. I show him genuine love; that’s what it’s all about,” Bronson said after the show. “Honestly anything he ever needs from me [I’m here] – if he wants me back here, I’m back.” It was clear that Bronson sincerely enjoyed his first improv comedy experience, even giving an impromptu performance of his song “Strictly For My Jeeps” at the end of the night.
Cipha Sounds hopes to attract more minorities to improvised comedy through the Take It Personal shows and eventually recruit urban youth to form improv teams. Starting June 7, Cipha Sounds will host Take It Personal every Friday at 9 pm at the UCB theatre.
Peep a couple videos including a bit of the comedy and Bam Bam performing “Strictly For My Jeeps”, and pics of him and Cipha with some of the performers.