Everything you need to know about NWAR is the new Black
Climbing up the narrow staircase leading to the second floor of Le Terminal, a small bar in the Plateau, you could already hear the liveliness of a crowd getting settled, with loud hip hop music setting the mood. The room was only half full when I arrived and found a spot, but the hundred seats in the small venue quickly filled up. As the guests patiently waited for the show to start, laughter filled the air; some were even singing and dancing along to the music.
When the MC of the night, introduced by the organizer as “Dolino, my favorite African with the three dreads,” arrived on stage, he was welcomed cheerfully. The crowd took in his set with faces lit up with smiles, heavy applause, and of course, roaring laughter.
“”NWAR is the new Black” is an expression we had to change a little, we gotta commercialize that, because noir is something beautiful, but it’s often seen as something negative. And that’s not cool. I’m nwar, N-Capital W-A-R!,” Dolino exclaimed, to the audience’s acclamation.
In Dolino’s set, as well as those of the nine other comedians who performed after him, a common theme was the playful tease between Black and Arab people. As they shared various anecdotes about their similar experiences and realities, the comedians seemed to express this symbiosis between both ethnicities perfectly. Throughout the night, they captured the spirit of brotherhood they had with their many Black and Arab friends and played on certain stereotypes they’ve been subjected to, especially in the Montreal scene. After all, Dolino’s occasional, cheeky “gotta stay African” comment was just as applicable to his friends from the Maghreb.
“People of different ethnicities in Montreal live fantastically together,” said Renzel Dashington, the organizer and founder of Bad Boys du Rire, in an interview after the show. “That’s something incredible to see, people of different origins just chilling, just talking, just having a great time, that’s Montreal! Montreal is French New York, legit!”
Dashington went on to explain that, while Bad Boys du Rire set up their first event only about a year ago, they have already held over 24 shows. The NWAR is the new Black shows, which were held throughout the month of February, sold out all 350 tickets available for their shows. Their open mic events, held each week at various locations, have attracted a similar crowd.
Although they have had some success since their creation, Dashington said his biggest challenge so far has been to convince concert hall managers to do business with him, on account of his skin colour.
“We were in Laval for about a year and we helped make something because nobody was there when we first started and they didn’t respect our audience, didn’t respect us,” Dashington said about his group’s role in incorporating diversity into the local comedy scene.
Despite these setbacks, Dashington found comfort in knowing that this project was bringing something new to the Montreal comedy scene. “To create things that don’t exist,” he said about his favorite part of having created the group. “And creating a space like Bad Boys du Rire where people can develop themselves and talk to a public that resembles them. So that we don’t have to explain all the undertones, we can just go straight to the meat.”
The Bad Boys du Rire open mic shows will be taking place March 6, 13, 20, and every following Wednesday at Agrikol. Shows begin at 8 p.m., and tickets are always free. Find more information about the events on facebook @badboysdurire.