“Years gone by only magga gyal getting’ de bligh…”
So started talkalypso king Short Pants (Llewellyn McIntosh) to a vociferous cheer from a packed Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, during the run of Talk Tent 2014 on Saturday night.
The full house had waited all evening to hear the veteran calypsonian deliver his now famous annual soca recital and there was much speculation about what would be his song of choice.
It took several minutes to quiet them down long enough for him to attempt to continue following the opening lines of Grenadian Mr Kill@’s (Hollice Mapp) Carnival smash hit “Rolly Polly”. Each time he attempted to restart the audience roared louder at the humorous contrast between his trademark serious approach and the frivolous content on offer.
Short Pants has created a new genre. He’s coined it talkalypso—literally talking calypso lyrics in a poetic style—that strips away the melody and harmony of musical accompaniment and exposes the lyrical genius, or lack-there-of, in classic and contemporary calypso music.
He first teased the audience with opening readings of The Mighty Sparrrow’s “Federation” and “Theresa” before warning his audience of what was to follow.
“Now I don’t like to do this, but it’s not about me it’s about what the audience wants, so here goes,” the former college principal said, in a stern no nonsense tone.
Try as he might the audience never allowed him to really get to the chorus of the song. In fact you could hardly hear what he was saying so enthusiastic was their response. Eventually he bowed and exited the stage to tremendous applause when he realised it was impossible to complete the piece.
“Generally what happens is that genre of calypso I tend not to know at all, but I have three children. My daughter (calypsonian Heather McIntosh) recommended this one. Every year they would call me and say pops we have the one,” a very affable Short Pants explained, when asked about his selection process following the show.
His rendition of Iwer George’s “Hand” remains a talkalypso classic. Last year he chose Bunji Garlin (Ian Alvarez) “Differentology” which was also well received.
“Every year there is one that is suitable. People have the habit of saying and taking the view that I am knocking something. I am not making a judgment. You’ve got the calypso, you’ve got the soca and I’m saying I have the skill and ability to recite both,” he said.
Short Pants’ performance was the perfect end for a thoroughly entertaining night of “ole talk and lacooray”.
Legendary story teller Paul Keens-Douglas set the tone right from the start by informing the audience of the journey talk tent has taken from its days at Astor to Roxy and to the Hollows before finally finding a home at Queen’s Hall.
He returned later in the show to tell tales of life after retirement that the predominately older audience seemed to find quite relatable.
“When I retire they say Paul pick up a sport boy. Golf is a gentleman’s game Basdeo Panday, Brian Lara, Dwight Yorke all of dem playing golf,” he started.
“What they eh tell yuh is golf is like CEPEP one man doing all the wuk and all the others stand around watching saying: Nice job mate,” he continued to rousing applause.
David Bereaux, the singing emcee, introduced each act in extempo verse and performed some classic calypsoes as only he can during the show’s intermission.
TV couple Roy & Gloria (Hal Greaves and Dawn Henry) were also quite entertaining with their tales of marital disharmony. Miguel Browne and Farida Champan’s respective monologues on technological advancements and female empowerment were also very well received by the appreciative audience.
Earlier, Pierrot Grenade Felix Edinborough, schooled the audience on his comical unconventional approach to spelling, while newcomer Avion Crooks won them over with a rib-tickling monologue that featured a long distance phone call between two old friends.