Laughter Lines: Rob Broderick of Abandoman

Ireland’s top comedy hip-hop improv team and Edinburgh Fringe sell-out favourites Abandoman will bring their latest show Life + Rhymes to Cardiff later this October.

For Life + Rhymes, Abandoman bring their audience a fictional biopic of epic proportions. The imaginary retrospective spans twenty years and sees the duo’s attempt to “make it” as a band in the early 90s. Not only will the audience witness the highs, lows and scandals… they will form the supporting cast every night. Over the course of the tour, Abandoman will meet rival bands, managers, fan club presidents… and numerous other roles too fantastical to conjure up before the night itself.

Andy Howells chats to Rob Broderick of the comedy duo.

How did Abandoman come together?
Well, for anyone that hasn’t been to one of our shows before, we’re a comedy act that improvises a lot of songs each night, with a narrative that’s created based on suggestions from the audience.  It’s a hip hop and comedy fusion, with every word of the songs being created for that audience that night.

Strangely, the show’s improvised nature came about entirely due to my inability to remember lyrics.

Around 2008, I decided to take a hip hop comedy show to the Brighton Fringe Festival Initially, I wrote about 10 songs.  I worked on them for ages but really struggled to remember them.  On the opening night of the show, I was panicking.  I’d the stage littered with pages of lyrics and a vague idea of how they went.  I then got chatting to someone in the audience about their day.  Through mild panic, I improvised a song about it.  I then repeated this process until the hour was up.  At the end of the show, it was a messy but interesting mash up of chat and freestyle.  That’s pretty much how the show started.

Abandoman will bring Life+Rhyme to CardiffAbandoman will bring Life+Rhyme to Cardiff

Abandoman will bring Life+Rhyme to Cardiff

Who are you comedy heroes?
Jason Byrne was a huge comedic inspiration for me.  I saw him when I was 17 and was in awe at the way he improvised.  I might be wrong, but I seem to remember him doing about three hours in a university theatre, and pretty much riffing for the entire gig.  His ability to be spontaneous and create a kind of chaos in the room was one of the most exciting things I’d seen, and his shows remain some of my favourites these days.

Hip Hop and comedy is quite a collaboration – how did you decide to fuse it together for your shows?
I think I was always excited by both as a teenager.  In the 90’s I listened to a lot of Bill Hicks, Chris Rock and political hip hop.  There was crossover in content – ultimately it was a lot of people being funny and topical, with hip hop having the added extra of beats behind the words. I’ve always loved both sides, so it seemed like a natural thing to try to combine them.

What inspired Life + Rhymes?
Our ‘Life + Rhymes’ show is based on our love of musical biographies – things like ‘Walk The Line’ and ‘Straight Outta Compton’.  For this show, we’ve created a fictional world for us and the audience.  It’s essentially a fictional biopic, set in Ireland in the 90’s. People in the crowd are referred to as though they were there on this journey with usIt’s a silly construct but allows the audience to be a bit sillier as they can place themselves in our backstory if they wish to.

So what can people expect from the show?
A lot of freestyling, some fiery music, including a ceilidh/Skrillex fusion, and an audience that leave the venue as heroes of a story they didn’t know they’d be a part of.

Are you looking forward to visiting Cardiff?
Very much so!  The last time we were there we were supporting Micky Flanagan, just before he moved to massive arenas.  The audience was amazing, and it’s been too long since we’ve been back.

What’s the funniest experience you’ve had at a gig?
Occasionally, a heckle can be brilliant.  When we did V Festival a few years ago, we brought a 7 piece band with us.  We had to sound check for about 15 minutes – getting bass, horns, keys all set up.  For some reason, no one had told the audience this is what we were doing. 

We’d no idea that they were watching this thinking, “What kind of experimental stuff is this!?”  As I was asking for “more guitar in the monitors” someone from the crowd shouted, “Can I get more comedy in the monitors too?”.  Genuinely loved this and brought the room together (and made me realise that he wasn’t alone in thinking this was an elongated performance piece).

  • Catch Abandoman at Clwb Ifor Bach on October 26. Call 029 2023 2199 for ticket details