Held in an intimate, trendy lounge at off-Broadway theater New World Stages, The Set features a rotating cast of comedians and musicians, and even magicians, contortionists and poets.
Before the lights went down, I chatted with handsome, charismatic co-host and St. Louis native Kai Raziq about his experiences living abroad in Italy. Producer Pim Shih told me he was an aspiring comedian himself when he joined forces with a veteran entertainment producer to launch The Set.
Kai and comedian Scout Durwood kept the 90-minute show moving with their hilarious banter and amped up introductions of the evening’s six performers. Up first, singer/songwriter J. Cabrera, delivering R&B with a dash of Justin Timberlake’s vocal and sartorial stylings.
Shifting musical gears, Washington Heights native Rachel (a.k.a Rachel’s Last Resort) did a medley of folk rock post-breakup tunes, including a wry little ditty about what she would do if she were actress Scarlett Johansson.
Soulful rapper/poet GoodBrother managed to do the impossible, getting me to enjoy rap with his heartfelt ode to W.O.M.A.N -- or, as he sings it, “Wonderful, Outstanding, Mature, Aware, Necessary.”
It was the next two performers, though, that stood out from the talented crowd. Detroit native singer/songwriter Redwine -- who later told me he could feel my energy -- was absolutely mesmerizing. His silky smooth tones had the entire audience applauding, especially during his spot on version of Ne-Yo’s “Closer.”
The applause were infused with laughter during Brooklyn comedian Evon Campbell’s hilarious monologue, taking aim at everything from appropriate laundromat attire to how much luckier singers are when it comes to attracting the ladies.
And now for the punch line -- admission to The Set is free. Recession or not, entertainment in the Big Apple doesn’t get any better than this. I can’t wait for next month’s show.