Kahlil Ashanti
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Kahlil Ashanti

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The best kept secret in music


"Los Angeles Times"

A runaway hit at this year's Montreal and Vancouver Fringe Festivals...Ashanti has drawn comparisons to Whoopi Goldberg, but his liquid mug, stand-up chops, emotional energy and physical courage as often suggest John Leguizamo, spinning among 24 characters...veterans, aspiring artists and viewers with father issues will devour Basic Training! - David C Nichols

"Beverly Hills Outlook/KABC Radio"

Brilliant! For once the star deserved his standing ovation! Hopeful, upbeat, original, fascinating! - Cynthia Citron

"The Daily Mail"

One-man plays on the Fringe are often low-key affairs, but the energy and emotional intensity of Kahlil Ashanti’s performance provides 65 electrifying minutes of heart-rendering drama, energetic physical comedy and mind-blowing rap-dance as he tells his own remarkable story.

Kahlil fought his way out of a poor black background – with a father constantly putting him down – by joining the US Air Force. In Basic Training, persecuted by a foul-mouthed, bullying drill sergeant, he survived by befriending another recuit who was afflicted with Tourett’s syndrome (involuntary tics).

Robust military use of language makes this show unsuitable for young children.

Kahlil became a member of the USAF’s Top In Blue troop of entertainers. But he was haunted by the revelation that he was not the son of the man who bullied him at home.

Kahlil’s efforts to find his real Father, involving hilarious phone calls with his uncle Tony, a right-on black power activist, - hit a brick wall until he met a little girl dying of cancer any they told each other their dreams. Each mad a wish and both became true.

Defying medical opinion, the girl is alive and well and, last year Kahlil met his father for the first time. In this wonderful show playing 23 characters, he proves himself a son to be proud of.
- The Daily Mail UK


Immensely talented comic actor Kahlil Ashanti's one-man show, Basic Training, relates the turmoil of his real-life experiences with American military entertainment squad Tops In Blue and eventually in his quest to find his father.

Amusing the troops from Greenland to Kuwait between 1992 and 1996, Ashanti was on the front-line of some extreme situations.

It's a razor-edged roller coaster of a show that will leave you breathless with its energy, dumbstruck at its drama and touched by the very human heart beating at its core.

Ashanti manages to squeeze a dizzying 26 characters into 75 minutes with hardly any respite. His bigoted former drill sergeant is reminiscent of the viscous character in Full Metal Jacket, as Ashanti bombards you with anecdotes about the physical and verbal abuse he endured during training.

But just when the sergeant is becoming a bit too real for comfort, Ashanti swaps him for an array of much lighter but equally colourful characters.

And then there's his hilarious uncle Tony, never short of a wise old word of advice gleaned from the more paranoid American theorists.

Ashanti is better at locating the humour in some of his experiences than others. Obviously, some are just a bit too close to home, as this is no easy ride, but the best stories make you cry as well as laugh and his understanding of pathos and drama is as acute as his sense of comic timing.

So, while the fascist drill sergeant lingers just to the point of distraction, the much greater tension of a near-death experience in Iraq is very quickly diffused.

Nevertheless, when Ashanti stops all the action to drop the heavy bombs at the crux of his tale, he lifts it way beyond the realm of most Fringe shows. - Metro UK

"Montreal Gazette"

Los Angeles based comic/rapper/dancer Kahlil Ashanti could be the single most talented performer to ever grace the Fringe. Catch Basic Training (formerly Father's Day), his live bio of how he fled an abusive stepfather to join the U.S. Air Force and saw his show-biz career take off - before it's a Hollywood movie, already in the works. - Matt Radz, Arts & Life

"The Hour, Montreal"

Looking back over five days and nineteen Fringe shows is like freaking out just before a math exam you're sure you're going to fail...some performers, like Kahlil Ashanti, whose Father's Day is the revelation of the festival - already know more than the teacher...

Then there's Father's Day. L.A.'s Ashanti doesn't need to be at the Montreal Fringe Festival. His show is being made into a major motion picture. He's here because he wants to be. He makes you feel that doing his show for fifteen people is just as exciting and worthwhile as doing it in front of a thousand people. And he's talented. And in the search for meaning at the Fringe Festival, seeing him lug equipment for another venue or volunteer at the beer tent is a part of his performance: it feeds into the fact that he's endearing because he works hard, and because the theatre is absolutely where he's supposed to be. Father's Day is a generous and unexpected show that you shouldn't miss out on - Jodi Essary, Arts & Entertainment

"Centaur Theatre Montreal Audience Testimonials"

Dreams Can Come True!!

Way to go Kahlil!! I went to see this one man show"Father's Day" at the Centaur,having missed the sold out show at the Fringe! What a talented young man! This autobiographical true story of his 30 years of his life told in one and half hours.(without intermission) He played every single role,starting with his mother,abusive stepfather,members of the Air Force etc.I especially enjoyed the roles he performed at the talent contest where he did-- rap,sang and danced-- with different personalities. A touching scene when he portrayed the young dying child and the scene,at the end, when he finally meets his Dad. He even had audience participation! Dreams can come true,according to Kahlil who will be going to Las Vegas and New York for his next show called"Basic Training"--A future uprising star!!! P.S. At the end of his show, Kahlil Ashanti stood at the door and shook everyone's hand!! Way to go and Good Luck!!

Fantastic Show
I went to see Father's Day last summmer during the Fringe festival.By far this guy's performance outshone any other performance in the numerous other shows that I went to see.It was an hour and a half of pure magic! Kahlil is a powerhouse of unlimited energy.He is a master of everything.HE can dance, sing, move you to tears make you want to yell for joy.At the end of his show I was excited,entertained and felt that I really got my money's worth.After the show he mingled with the audience and talked about movie projects.He signed autographs.He came across as a truly likable guy.I wish him luck.

amazing man...
When we settled ourselves in the first row we couldn't help but notice that stage was totally empty except for a chair: this was going to be one ballsy performance. When Kahlil came on the stage he filled it with his ramshackle home in Iowa, which then morphed into an airforce base office, then into an endless stage on the base, then an enormous truck to move the whole show, then into a hospital, then another stage, this time in Greenland, then back into his home, a hospital, and on and on. Kahlil shows you his story as he interacts with his own demons and the others in his life: he plays over 12 different people, including his unforgettable, brutal father, his explosively funny Black Muslim uncle, and the flake, Monica. And can the man dance! oh my...all this was done with no makeup, no costumes, no nothing except power and talent, extreme sensitivity and courage. The man is unforgettable. Kahlil, if you're reading this, and I hope you are, please know that we thank you for an amazing performance and know that we will be watching for you.

I think that anyone who reads this article will be impressed with what Kahlil accomplished in his personal life and in his career. According to me he is a very good row model for a lot of young kids growing up in broken homes and who have serious family problems. He could have rebelled by joining street gangs and going bad but instead he joined the Air Force and tried to become and Architect in the process, that's just amazing!

You should be very proud of yourself. Keep up the good work!

You derserve every bit of success you get!
- www.hour.ca

"Vancouver Westender"

The laughs are plentiful, and you may even discover a tear in your eye. The most impressive thing about Father's Day is Ashanti's physicality. The fact that his story is autobiographical is almost astonishing.

- Leanne Campbell, Theatre Critic

"Terminal City Weekly, Vancouver"

Father’s Day
This is storytelling at its best. Kahlil is a master of gesture and expression, convincingly switching characters through dance, posture, facial nuances and sometimes as little as a turn of his head. Comes as no surprise, since he has two world tours of 27 countries under his belt to some of the toughest crowds going. Way beyond a regular Fringe experience, this man is a consummate performer with the talent and seasoning to deliver a house-raising show. See “Father’s Day” dead sober and come out drunk from the exuberance of it.
- JB, Theatre Critic

"Unlawfully Gifted Kahlil Ashanti"

Amid the hype fuelled blast of any arts festival comes at least a dozen wheezing promises that here, at last, is The Next Big Thing.

In the case of the unlawfully gifted Kahlil Ashanti, the promise happens, on this occasion, to be completely, marvellously true. This show is killer.

Recently hit with a salvo of prestigious awards and breathless reviews worldwide, Ashanti nonetheless played to a half full room. Despite scant attendance and the conspicuous clashing of the number 57 tram just outside the Town Hall meeting room, Ashanti performed with the flawless aplomb of a seasoned Broadway darling.

Taking us through the tour of his theatrical duty as a US Air Force entertainer, Ashanti offers nothing but impeccable magic. His gift for dead-right mimicry is comparable to Eddie Murphy; his talent for seamless, feel-good melancholy brings Robin Williams to mind and his sheer X Quotient evoked, for this glitz-happy reviewer at least, the adorable chops of Bernadette Peters. The man's a star.

Woven into the fabric of this all-signing, all-dancing conflation of anguish with hope is the real and riveting story of Ashanti's reunion with his birth father. If you're in any way prone to tears be duly warned: your evening gown will be sodden by show's end.

If you don't manage to see this show, at the very least lie to everyone and say that you did. It's essential viewing.
- The Age, Melbourne Australia


Basic Training on Broadway-coming soon!
Kahlil can also be seen in theatres across North America in the Lion's Gate feature film 'Akeelah and the Bee' starring Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, written and directed by Doug Atchison. www.akeelahandthebee.com



His biggest influences are Mel Blanc, Richard Pryor, Don Knotts and Eddie Murphy. He was raised in Landstuhl Germany, Yokohama Japan, Bay City Texas and Davenport Iowa. His hometown? Pick one.

Kahlil Ashanti began his career as a stand-up comedian when he was just fourteen years old. Born in Germany and raised in Japan, Texas and Iowa to a military family his traveling allowed plenty of material for his routine.
After joining the Air Force in 1992, Kahlil competed against more than 1500 contestants to receive the 'Roger' award, the highest honor given to an entertainer in the military. Kahlil was then invited to tour with an elite 28-member team of performers called TOPS IN BLUE. This led to several world tours which gave him the opportunity to perform as an actor, comedian, and dancer in over 27 foreign countries and 46 states for crowds in excess of 10,000 people, all before he turned 21!

In 2000, after performing for three years at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas as a magician, Kahlil moved to Los Angeles and began writing his one-man show BASIC TRAINING. Kahlil trained extensively in the Alexander Technique under Jean-Louis Rodrigue and Character Technique under Jeffrey Tambor. He also studies voice with Bruce Eckstut.

Since April 2004 the show has toured extensively and has earned rave reviews from Australia, Dubai, Canada and the UK, winning an acclaimed Fringe First Award in Edinburgh.
Basic Training is due to hit New York later this year and is currently in development as a feature film.