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Talk Tent was no laughing matter
Late comedian John Agitation must have smiled from beyond last weekend when Keensdee Productions staged the 35th anniversary of Talk Tent at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, on Friday to Sunday, and the artistes all paid special tribute to him.
With a large audience in attendance on Saturday, followed by a sold out house on Sunday, the cast, headed by Paul Keens- Douglas, presented a humorous twist to a number of serious issues, both political and social.
With David Bereaux serving as show host in the capacity of “singing emcee,” the weekend’s programme commenced on time at its advertised 7.30 pm start with veteran Pierrot Grenade Felix Edinborough delivering the first salvo of non-stop humour.
In the unique style of Pierrot, Edinborough set about spelling a number of words, telling stories to arrive at the eventual spelling of a word.
One had to be present to see, hear and understand his spelling of the words “potato” and “redundancy.”
Almost every patron in the auditorium seemed to be able to relate to Avion Crooks as she related her experiences of having a severe toothache.
Though a painful experience, her piece was regularly punctuated by prolonged laughter from the audience.
Also paying tribute to Agitation, who he said assisted him when he began in comedy as a young man, was Miguel Browne, a Talk Tent veteran.
During his skit he recalled many of the old Talk Tent regulars who have passed on, like Shirley Beulah King, Errol “Stalk” St Hill, Horace James, Samantha Pierre, calypsonian Commentor, iconic Midnight Robber Puggy “The Agent of Death Valley” Joseph.
In one of his monologues, speaking about holes in the nation’s roads, Browne opined that WASA and T&TEC must be looking for gold given the regularity at which these two state public utilities dig up the nation’s roads, especially after they have beenpaved.
Browne also had his audience in stitches when he spoke about colloquial localwords and phrases that are no longer used, like “vaps,” “vi-kivie,” “jijere,” and “pie pie per choka.”
Another Talk Tent veteran, Farida Chapman, elegantly attired in a shimmering midnight-blue, floor length, off-the-shoulder gown, was outstanding as she placed a humorous twist to the sensitive topic of Menopause.
Spoken Word artiste Idrees Saleem was also successful in holding the audience captive as he dramatised on some social issues. One of the night’s standout items was Bereaux rendering three retro calypsoes— Sparrow’s Unity, Small Island Pride’s Mastife and Spitfire’s Post Post Another Letter to Thelma.
On point for Bereaux’s performance was a quartet of musicians which included popular musician Marva Newton.
I have often wondered why Bereaux doesn’t throw his hat in the ring for National Calypso Monarch honours as his diction and articulation are always perfect. His treatment ofSparrow’s Unity, beside invoking much nostalgia, was by itself worth much of the admission fee to Talk Tent.
Star of the show Keens-Douglas was up next, opening with one of his oldies, Vibert and the String Bank. Having placed his audience in the mood to rockback and laugh even more, he raised the bar with Geeky
and the Bees, the painful extraction of honey from bee hives, followed by a new work, The Wedding. PKD rounded of his night’s chore with Foolish People, warning patrons that they could very well be sitting next to one of the foolish people God allowed to walk away without a brain at creation.
Special guest, acclaimed saxophonist Tony Paul walked with ace guitarist Dean Williams to provide an excellent performance opening with a Luther Vandross classic and ending with his jazzy interpretation of Kes’ Hello.
Talkalypso champion Short Pants rounded off a night of good, clean humour, with a serious touch, by reciting lyrics of calypsoes by Rootsman and Brother Valentino. By the time he was into the final verse of Valentino’s Where Calypso Went? he had some patrons answering aloud, “back to de friggin’ tent.”
n Talk Tent 35 was a professionally staged production, with stage manager Michael Welch, who also constructed the stage set, tastefully keeping each item queued to each ensuing performance. The stage set, motif of champagne bubbled surrounding the number 35, was designed by Keens’ Douglas’ wife Marilyn.
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