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By Sandra Sealy. Photos by Marniko Media Inc. Caribbean people love to laugh. But one cool February evening at Lantern’s Mall in Hastings, I also learned from hot comedic duo Chrispen “Rum” Hackett and Simon “Koke” Alleyne, that comedy is also serious business. First, I was really intrigued by the choice of stage name. “All the way back in April last year… we were just mekkin’ sport and ended up saying “Rum and Koke”. And oh, you know what? Because Simon’s darker he’s the Coke and because I’m brown-skinned, I’m the brown rum,” Chrispen offered with a grin. Simon shared further: “We were at TGI Restaurant in Orlando and saw Barbados rum and coke, just randomly, on the drinks menu. It just confirmed to us that rum and coke is something universal. That’s what we wanted – a name that is universal which also represents the brand of comedy that we do - not necessarily specific to just Barbados and the Caribbean.”

“So it was serendipity?” I asked. “Yeah… whatever that word means. It was fate – an omen,” Rum and Koke countered without skipping a beat. However, their start in comedy occurred much earlier where they met as cast members of the popular Laff It Off – an annual Bajan stage show. Whether under the lights or backstage, the two actors discovered a synergy they decided to capitalise on by doing comedy skits together. From then Rum and Koke began. “Our first performance as Rum and Koke came during Laugh Out Loud Caribbean at the Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium…to a fairly modest audience, 2 – 3,000 people. It was there that we recognized our style of comedy. We tell people that we don’t tell jokes; we show jokes. So our style is different - not stand up but situational or skit comedy. As a two-hander, we found there’s nobody else in Barbados really doing this…it is quite physical and interactive.” Simon and Chrispen’s acting skills enhance their audience’s experience; by “going stage left, stage right or coming off stage, rather than standing in front of a mic. They also credit their sound engineer, DJ Kareem Hackett, who happens to be Chrispen’s brother, with taking their performances to another level with the use of well-timed sound effects and music. These days, the hottest means of sharing anything and going viral is video. For Rum and Koke, Marniko Media Inc. (Nicholas King and Maria Fitzpatrick) has been integral to growing their popularity. ”They have been the persons behind our videos and we owe them everything we have. We love working with them as they complement us extremely well.” In such a short period, Rum and Koke’s portfolio is already impressive including major events like the Bachanaal Time Best Of Crop Over show (popular calypso tent) in 2015 and 2016 AgroFest, Barbados’ national agricultural exhibition. Left: Chrispen Hackett (Rum) and Simon Alleyne (Koke) Right: Some of Rum & Koke’s hilarious Youtube Videos



Living Barbados April 2016 edition