Cipha Sounds & Wil Sylance.

Gorilla Records: Cipha Sounds & Wil Sylvince Have The Right Amount Of Comedy On ‘Chemistry Set’

Cipha Sounds & Wil Sylvince.
Cipha Sounds & Wil Sylvince.

Equal parts nonsense and hype, shit-talking and truth-telling, this propulsive release from Cipha Sounds and Wil Sylvince’s captures the thrill of seeing the two comics live. Those familiar with both comics may know them from their live shows at The Comedy Cellar, which shows the stand-ups building comedy out of a uniquely singular club context not afforded to most performers. What they’re able to achieve in a set is something that dares to fly close to the sun, and no matter how successful or not it is, there is a sense that both comics followed their singular vision for what that night’s material should be. Unlike a lot of club comics, who are both indifferent and beholden to the audience, Cipha and Wil incorporate the crowd into their act, while also wholly trusting their instincts to guide them through spots and shows. It feels exciting to see live, because it may be the only set one can see that feels like it could crumble if even the slightest miscalculation is present. In this time capsule of their show The Chemistry Set, listeners can hear what this is like for a live audience. The strain in either comic’s voice isn’t desperation or anxiety, but a real desire to have the audience appreciate the material, even though it’s easy to believe Cipha and Wil would be trying to crack each other up with these bits in an empty room. 

Cipha Sounds is more bombastic and fresh than almost any comic you’ll see in America

After jokes about fucking up by sleeping on Drake’s talent in 2007 and being hot for Karens, Cipha starts a chunk with crowd word, asking the audience what super power they’d have if they could. After acknowledging everyone’s answer, he suggests men want real superpowers like super speed and super strength, while women pick “nosey bitch superpowers” like invisibility. From there, he launches into a bit about women learning a man’s passcode one number at a time, and how he throws his phone out the window whenever a partner asks to use his phone to check the movie times in the car. Each part is wildly fun, raucous, and unhinged in a way that feels playful, not just polished. There can be a real Todd Barry/Chris Rock thing that goes on in stand-up when it comes to delivery, and Cipha avoids this by always looking for the joy of the bit, rather than ignoring it in favor of just nailing the timing. Even though it’s been worked out to hell, there’s an illusion of spontaneity, and each wild move only makes the joke more thrilling. 

Wil Sylvince can perform comedy miracles with simple ideas.

In a bit about the weather, Sylvince starts off skeptical about the difference between degrees when he hears the weatherman say “Today is gonna be 7. Tomorrow is gonna be 5.” From there, he becomes incredulous as he notices the difference, saying, “My balls is way by my uterus right now.” He stays with this premise, which is, again, degrees of the weather, discussing how at ten degrees, you can feel the difference of every single degree change. Every line works, and by moving from silly idea to sillier punchline, Sylvince is able to show what great comedy can look like without needing to have a million things in the way of the joke. 

Chemistry Set is something for comics to aspire to.

More often than not, comedy sets can feel flat, tired, and devoid of what we all loved about stand-up growing up. Increasingly, the comedy we see on a national scale is either very quiet or very performative, and it can feel tedious to the point where one hopes for this new comedy boom to end. Chemistry Set is a fun album from comics engaged in the joy of the work, which allows there to be actual jokes that are easy to identify, and an excitement in seeing how bits are built. If more releases were like this, it might help us all to see the promise of stand-up with fresh eyes, and to remember that the power of jokes comes from their ability to surprise, not just shock.

Cipha Sounds & Wil Sylvince: The Chemistry Set.
Cipha Sounds & Wil Sylvince: The Chemistry Set.

Stream & download Cipha Sounds & Wil Sylvince's comedy album The Chemistry Set available on 800 Pound Gorilla & everywhere you listen to comedy!

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