85 South Live brings big laughs, St. Louis love with nonstop comedy freestyle

Chico Bean, DC Young Fly and Karlous Miller have taken the off the cuff improvisation skills they honed on “Nick Cannon’s Wild ‘N Out” and applied them to their own brand of comedy by way of the 85 South Show.

St. Louis got a taste of the trio and what they offer by way of their popular “85 South Comedy Show” podcast when their 85 South Live Comedy Tour played a sold-out Stifel Theatre Saturday night. After a lengthy wait, the three comics emerged on stage together. The shenanigans started out the gate as they clowned each other and the audience while showing love to the city by way of shouting out information normally reserved for natives and insiders.

“Who from the Dub,” Miller said. The crowd was elated as the St. Louis references continued early on in the show.

“St. Louis, y’all some gangstas, but you be up in the Skate King like this,” DC Young Fly said while twisting and contorting his body to emulate smooth moves on the rink.

Miller referred to Vashon High School and the residents of former Bluemeyer Housing Project who attended the school. And Bean referred to Nelly’s “Country Grammar” as “one of the coldest rap records of all time.”

“Man, he was straight harmonizing about a drive-by,” Bean said.

“And it made me think ‘my people in St. Louis doing drive-bys in Range Rovers? Our folks running up in a Ford Taurus,” Miller chimed in.

They dissected the lyrics from a few of Nelly’s classic hits, gave shouts to other artists from the city who crossed over into mainstream such as Chingy an J’Kwon and did a bit on former St. Lunatic member Slo Down. But they also used music to prove their knowledge of St. Louis goes deeper than the surface of the rap music that received national and international acclaim.

“What y’all know about Pretty Willie,” Bean said before singing and rapping along “Lay Your Body Down” and “She Got A Man at Home.”

Karlous Miller made sure to bring up rap duo Tha Whole 9.

“Some of y’all’s knees still hurtin’ from all of that Nina Poppin’ y’all used to do up in the club,” Miller said, referring to the dance move and song by the group that was a local sensation in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Their stroll down St. Louis’ memory lane through music and neighborhoods locked the audience in – and the comedy crew kept the undivided attention of the crowd for the rest of the night during their freestyle format that was a stark contrast from the typical comedy show.

It was expected after they came out together to greet the crowd that they would leave and come back one comic at a time to deliver a set. But 85 South crew had all three comics on stage riffing off of each other for nearly two hours. There was no headliner or featured performers – just a group of comics with natural chemistry and an ability to tag team in and out of the jokes.

The only intentions seemed to be to bring the funny and to make sure it was clear that they were a sum of three equal parts as opposed to one getting more time in the spotlight or landing more punchlines. When one seemed to be getting more shine, one of the others would ask for another of the comics to jump in – but the ebb and flow was so natural that it didn’t feel forced.

There was a couch and table set up on stage, but it was only used as a place to fall out with laughter after being so amused with the antics of another comic, or themselves. They also had a musician on stage and a microphone equipped with autotune – which DC Young Fly used most to offer hilarious sound bites and musical effects.

It was a go with the flow style on a completely different spectrum from typical comedy show – which usually features a familiar face telling mostly familiar jokes with a few new bits sprinkled in. The 85 South crowd didn’t know what would happen next – and it didn’t seem like the comics did either. They proved themselves masters of improvisation as they recreated a common scenario from true crime hit “The First 48” and jumped into the crowd to target certain members of the audience for their fashion choices.

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