HIP-HOP FOR DUMMEEZ written, directed, and performed by Jerome Sable and Eli Batalion. Presented by Sable and Batalion at the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space (30 Bridgman). Runs to May 22, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2:30 pm. $15. 416-531-1827. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Mad TV alumnus Orlando Jones raves, "Hysterical!" on the flyers and ads for Jerome Sable and Eli Batalion 's new show at the Tarragon , Hip-Hop For Dummeez - but I'd been juiced to see this even before his worthy seal of approval. I caught the Montreal team's breakout rap musical spin on the Job Bible story in 03, and after that everything else claiming to be funny paled.
Pressure to live up to themselves was higher than Snoop Dogg in Amsterdam; hence their decision to open the show with a more casual, getting-to-know-you feel. They're playing themselves hosting a new instructional hiphop DVD, singing and bantering over Batalion's bass guitar riffing.
From here, as promised, they act out the DVD with the assistance of a long, projected PowerPoint presentation. Their reliance on a laptop will worry anyone who's seen a computer make one mistake and mess up a play or concert for several minutes, but the risk-taking pays off. The guys show linguistic charts and graphs, hokey pictures and outrageously clever lyrics, demonstrating how to make hiphop without a single flub.
Judging from their bang-on analysis of the literary elements of rappin', dudes clearly have a fanatic appreciation of hiphop structures and trends. The joy is in watching them flesh these out, Batalion playing the instructor straight man to Sable's loud rapper demonstrator character.
In the second half of the uninterrupted 70-minute show, they take it to the next level, turning the first half inside out with "deleted scenes" including elastic-faced Sable's spoken-word spoof This Is My Spoken Word Piece.
Not every joke is on point, but with the fast pace and high gag concentration, you can be confident that something characteristically sharp is seconds away.
So, basically, yeah - what Orlando Jones said.