Last Friday, there was a hyped-up and astonishingly sober crowd at Theater and Dance 1701. The crowd waited in anticipation for an evening of spoken word presented by Lip Bomb, a spoken word troupe that arose after a group of students took Art 137: Spoken Word, taught by Kip Fulbeck. In the fall and winter they presented “Strictly Oral” and “Wizard of Balls.” This time, the show was cleverly titled “Words With Friends.”
An evening of spoken word has to be the sexiest sober evening of your life. Talented, erudite humans walk up on a stage, become blinded by a spotlight and mesmerize the audience with captivating words and witty anecdotes. Some artists go for a laugh factor; some are absolutely innocent and have pure, unadulterated words stream from their lips. Other artists say things that are excruciatingly real. Whatever the means, spoken word is guaranteed to push audiences into an airy state of consciousness that is slightly overwhelmed by the satisfying power of words.
“I think it is super therapeutic,” fourth-year sociology major Molly Goldman said. “I just think to myself, ‘Okay this thing doesn’t have to stress me out internally anymore. I just wrote it down, I can perform it and I can move on.’”
Goldman introduced the event with a warm welcome to everyone who had come out. Lights dimmed slightly and Roxi Diaz took control of the stage, performing a sentimental piece about how books provide adventure for humanity. Diaz’s no-nonsense attitude and refreshing earthiness implored the audience to not watch TV, but to read: “When little tweens shriek over the twangy wails of Miley Cyrus, I will stick you deep in midst of Isis and Osiris.”
Next up was Gabrielle Dimaranan, whose soft tone iterated how annoying the question “What is your favorite color?” really is. Dimaranan pointed out that favorite colors depend on what mood one is in, and the simple childhood question disregards that complexity. One after another, Lip Bomb artists walked up on stage and left unsuspecting audience members with novel and glorious things to wonder about. Many emotions were aroused throughout the night.
“When you do spoken word, you can create all sorts of emotions. You can make people feel good and you can make them laugh,” fifth-year CCS literature major Desmond Wilder said. “You can even make them feel a weird existential horror about where they are going in their lives, which in itself is both terrifying and pretty badass.”
One existential horror that was brought up was the power of fear. Sophomore Ryan Yamamoto astonished audience members with his tirade about how fear is an inexplicably dangerous idea used as mind control: “Fear is the driving motivation behind nearly all of the world’s atrocities. It is irrational but it somehow becomes justified. … Fear is the grandfather of rage, the cousin of hatred and the father of all violence. Stress? That’s just fear when it wears its Sunday’s Best.” With raw emotion, an impeccable vocabulary and signature swagger, Yamamoto pinpointed a very real issue in a purely poetic way.
Second-year CCS literature major Chanel Miller masterfully managed to make the audience feel silly, upset, threatened and empowered, all in an eight to nine minute period. “Bubble Trouble” was about her innocently stepping into a gym hot tub, only to be hassled by an imprudent older man. In addition to her brilliant words, Miller showed an array of perfect-for-photo-bombing faces, which helped her scare off the creep.
“My face is really malleable,” Miller said. “I don’t have a very defined bone in my nose, so it’s easy to wiggle around and I can make a lot of funny faces.”
Throughout the evening, one couldn’t help but notice how each artist commanded the stage with their own flavor. Second-year Alex Sicaud spoke with a matter-of-fact voice, often interjected with onomatopoeia. Jaclyn Cross’ tonal value was very quiet but moving, paced by short spurts of breath. Dimaranan changed outfits each time she came on stage. Mel Rosenberg charmed everyone with her talk of familiar childhood staples like recess and Fruit Roll-ups, while hitting on deeper subjects like identity. Joe Tapiro brought swag to the stage, rapping about the pangs of addiction. Hillary Adams gave everyone a “mind-gasm” with her creative wordplay.
Demi Anter [full disclosure: Artsweek Editor] closed the show with an insightful message about her decision that “the glass is half-full” (“Demi” being the word for “half” in French) despite the daily issues that plague the life of a quirky college girl, like being in love with a T.A. who only loves turnips and not being able to find batteries for your sex toys.
When asked about how it feels to reveal secrets onstage, Anter provided a doubly insightful answer: “I think spoken word is a good tool for memory. I have a piece that’s a love poem, and I’m not dating that person anymore, but when I perform it I think back to what it was like in that moment … and I get this good feeling … I can access that. It’s actually really nice to go back and remember that things were exciting and sweet at one point.”
Overall, “Words with Friends” was an evening of creative energy and projected articulation. The art of spoken word imbued the audience, myself included, with a self-empowering state of mind. Lip Bomb did words justice.