Slam Poetry duo Balances Lighthearted Comedy With Serious Commentary

“Slam Up: go to the edge of your imagination then jump … where poetry meets comedy,” artists Cali Bulmash and Emily Lowinger said in their opening act.

Slam Up, a genre-defying duo that includes different aspects of slam poetry, music and comedy, performed at the District of Columbia Arts Center to a crowd of 13 Sunday.

“I had no idea what to think,” audience member Chelsea Welch said. “I really liked the switching back and forth [between poetry and comedy].”

Bulmash, 24, and Lowinger, 24, both of Teaneck, N.J., have been working on Slam Up since last year. Lowinger brought her comedic talent to the table while Bulmash had experience writing and performing slam poetry. They quickly found their talents were compatible.

Slam Up “started with the idea that comedy and poetry tend to be homogeneous in emotion,” Lowinger said.

Poetry slams often leave audience members depressed or confused, so Slam Up aims to provide both humor and serious topics, she said.

“We have a story to tell and we love to make people laugh,” Bulmash said.

The comedic aspect of their show was featured with the songs, “Louis CK” and “Xxxmas sexxX.” The duo performed these songs to give the audience a break between discussing abusive relationships, media censorship and love.

Lowinger said she and Bulmash want their art to be smart, clever and comprehensible.

“Our show is perfect for anyone who doesn’t have experience watching comedy or poetry,” she said.

Their songs, comedic pieces and slam poems range from serious topics like sexuality, labels and relationships to more casual content like remembering a person’s name.

One of Slam Up’s main goals is to have their songs be relatable to everyone, Bulmash said.

For example, the songs are relatable regardless of pronoun usage because “ultimately, it’s a human thing,” she said. Although many of their songs are connected to their personal experiences in the queer community, the underlying messages about love and relationships are relatable to everyone, she said.

“I really enjoyed how personal their performance is; they’re not afraid to tell the audience anything,” Slam Up fan Andrew Yonki, said.

writersblocheadshots09Victoria Tanner is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at

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