MC Hammersmith: 1 Man 8 Mile | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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MC Hammersmith: 1 Man 8 Mile

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

MC Hammersmith’s hard at work even before we’ve taken our seats, offering a freestyle rap about the audience members as we file into The Hive at the very unhip-hop time of midday.

For this is the talent he’s mastered, improvising well-articulated rhymes with a fluidity and a coherence that belies how fast his brain must be working to make this happen.

His shtick is that he’s a privately educated middle-class white boy from West London – hence his amusingly punning monicker – spitting verses off the top of his head.

And he attracts sophisticated audiences to match. When he asked for words to incorporate into his opening track, the first suggestion was ‘zeugma’, an obscure figure of speech. That did not defeat him, although he did skip over another contribution: ‘borborygmi’, the growling sound made by your stomach.

Posh boys rapping is something of a comedy staple, but MC Hammersmith doesn’t play up to the privileged stereotypes too much. Instead, he just gets on with doing an excellent and impressive job of proper freestyling.

But however formidable his abilities, and however pumping the music, an act like this comes with the limitation that displaying the same talents over an hour can become repetitive.

MC Hammersmith does his best to mitigate this, theming each rap differently, but even so he doesn’t quite overcome the rule of diminishing returns. One track’s about one punter’s most embarrassing moment (purloining Blackstreet’s No Diggity for the perfect hook); another is built from the origin story of a couple (a very candid pair in this show). He also does the staple routine of rapping about objects audience members wave in the air, popularised in comedy by Abandoman, although it has a longer history on the hip-hop scene.

A vocoder is brought into play for a couple of songs to vary the sound, while there’s sparing use of call-and-response to keep the audience engaged.

The improviser – who also performs with improv troupes Spontaneous Sherlock and Men With Coconuts under his real name Will Naameh – faced some near-terminal technical problems in this performance when the music stopped completely. But his easy likability – low-status when chatting, high-status when rapping – kept the sold-out crowd on-side over the few minutes it took to fix.

MC Hammersmith: 1 Man 8 Mile is on at Monkey Barrel Comedy (The Hive) at midday

Review date: 18 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Monkey Barrel Comedy (The Hive)

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