The horn blared, indicating it’s half-time and the game between the hometown Knickerbockers and the Portland Trailblazers is a nip-and-tuck, back-and-forth affair. Suddenly the excitement was doused for a few of the fans sitting a row down to my left. “Wow, she just won tickets to that show! I can’t find seats anywhere” is what the young man said. That response was revealed after a lady was shown on the Jumbotron sharing a photo opp and getting blessed with a pair of tickets to the sold-out Dec. 1 Wild ’N Out concert with one of the writers/performers of the show, Rip Michaels.

Ironically, we had a discussion with Rip Michaels regarding the significance of the show at the World’s Most Famous Arena—Madison Square Garden. “Very few people, especially minorities, can actually say they played the Garden. A lot of people have performed at the Hulu Theater, and the theater is cool, but to actually play the Garden is legendary. Jay-Z said it best: ‘From Marcy to Madison Square.’ Once you’ve been there, you’ve done it. There’s nothing left after that. This will already go down in history as the first time ever that someone promoted and sold-out the Garden in three weeks.”

A native of Chicago, Rip Michaels migrated to NYC as a fledgling comedian for the chance to make an entry into the world of comedy. Through attrition, he has earned a reputation as one of the hardest working comics in the business. Having performed at more than 30 military bases and more than 200 colleges and universities, and even on a few major tours including Lady GaGa, Drake, Rihanna and the Watch the Throne Tour (Jay Z and Ye), he has writing credits for the likes of Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, Brandon T. Jackson, Johnny Depp and—perhaps his most fruitful alliance—Nick Cannon. Through that union, Rip’s skillset of comedian, producer and writer are all on display, as well as his newest wrinkle: concert promoter. 

A cocktail of sketch comedy, game show and music in an improvisational blend, the show “Wild ’N Out” has been able to resonate loudly since its inception with what was thought to be a niche hip hop audience and has become an entertainment Goliath. Michaels attests to that status: “The show stays current and show creator Nick Cannon always finds new talent and adds new perspectives.” For the sake of comparison, think of a program like “Saturday Night Live.” Rip concurs, “‘Wild ’N Out’ is the Black ‘SNL.’ It’s an institution—a fraternity, if you will, of people who [support] new talent and continue to respect the old talent and the pioneers that made it happen prior.”

David Goodson photos

How did the idea of a Wild ’N Out tour manifest? “A conversation between me and Nick sealed an inevitable partnership of us merging our two brands together. Me from selling out tours in arenas and him from having a successful television show.”

The combination of the realms of a controlled studio audience and the unhinged world of live venues had growing pains. Rip explains, “It was an uphill battle getting people to understand and build the excitement for the live show. We had to add different aspects in order to make it a live show. I involved live stand-up and more music, and just turned it into a non-stop event for all ages. Being able to sell out that first tour—it was the #2 tour on Pollstar that first year and it set a Pollstar record in Washington, D.C., for selling out two arenas in the same night [Capital One Arena and Show Place Arena]—was an amazing accomplishment.”

Which leads us back to what may be the pinnacle of the tour: Madison Square Garden for the largest “Wild ’N Out” live show in its history. “After over 200 episodes, this is monumental for not only myself, never having performed at the Garden. It’s monumental because Nick has never performed at the Garden. It’s monumental for me being able to put together this platform for everyone and say everyone got a chance to perform at the Garden. I appreciate being blessed enough to have the opportunity and the platform to share it with them.”

“Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ’N Out Live” features fan favorites from the original cast of “Wild ’N Out,” including Nick Cannon, Rip Michaels, DeRay Davis, Michael Blackson, Justina Valentine, Emmanuel Hudson, Hitman Holla, Conceited, Pretty Vee, Harlem’s own Charlie Clips, Radio Big Mack and DJ D-Wrek. Musical guests are slated to be GloRilla and A Boogie wit da Hoodie.

Over and out. Holla next week. ’Til then, enjoy the nightlife.

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