Riz Ahmed Shares Powerful Spoken Word Piece About Extremism on The Tonight Show
It’s undeniable that we live in some truly frightening times. How we choose to embrace and express our feelings as we get through these times is really up to ourselves, and here, Riz Ahmed took to The Tonight Show in order to show how he’s dealing with these “sour times”: spoken word.
Before launching into his poem, Ahmed explained that he wrote “Sour Times” ten years ago, with the hope that as time goes on, it becomes irrelevant. Sadly, even without hearing the poem, you can probably guess that’s not the case. “It’s my attempt to get behind the headlines,” he said, “and to try to find out where all this extremism is coming from.”
Ahmed also referenced host Jimmy Fallon’s earlier monologue about Charlottesville, wherein he more or less accepts responsibility for having helped normalize Trump by giving him a platform on his show. Ahmed said, “I was thinking about the speech you gave earlier, and in light of current events that are going on, it just seems that we’re living in really, really divided times, and it really hurts.”
The entire performance is done a cappella, and it’s some incredibly powerful stuff. I’ll admit that I’m partial to spoken word, and so my opinion might be a bit biased here as I’m already a fan of the form. But Ahmed tackles some heavy subject matter, and does so in such a way that really holds your attention and gives you so much to chew on long after his performance is done. What’s more, the show turned up the drama, turning down all the stage lights, leaving only Ahmed illuminated against a dark backdrop.
I think the most gripping line of all is part of the refrain or chorus, and he ends it with a bit of a painful riff that’s present only in his closing line: “I’m losing my religion to tomorrow’s headlines … but it’s fine.”
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