GoodKnight is creating performances with the future in mind. This GTA-based rap duo mesh their infectious personalities, love for comedy, and social justice issues to create incredible art. With smash hit parodies like 'Stay Broke' and catchy originals like 'Wavey', GoodKnight has managed to perform at over 100 live shows, including Evoke Creatives’ Earth Day event, and have even been featured at the NXNE Music Festival in Toronto.
We sat down with Mark and Clif to chat more about their backgrounds, creative processes, and inspirations.
What was the inspiration behind creating GoodKnight? How did you two meet?
Mark: GoodKnight was the common realization that something is wrong with the hip hop industry. As comedians, it’s our job to throw a corrective lens over our perceived worldly problems. Clif and I met at a show where we were both booked as stand-up acts. The host started walking around saying “I lost my rap act, can anyone else fill in?” Without hesitating, Clif jumped at the chance to get more stage time. And it was… terrible. Some of the worst rap I’ve ever heard. But, what impressed me about it was Clif’s go-getter attitude and his willingness to try anything without fear of failure. That was the moment I knew Clif was someone I wanted to work with. A few weeks later, GoodKnight was born.
What are your backgrounds, professionally and personally?
Mark: I come from a large family with a reform Jewish background. I was raised in the suburbs of NYC for the majority of my life. After high school, I went straight into the workforce taking a position in sales/customer service which I held for six years. In the latter half of these six years, I took up stand-up comedy as a hobby. It wasn’t until I had a very important talk with someone close to me that I realized I wasn’t happy with my life and if I didn’t make a change, it was likely to stay that way. I decided to enroll in the Humber College Comedy Writing & Performance program and ever since then, my life has been all about laughs. Alongside GoodKnight, I’ve also full time produced for venues, written & filmed sketches, and performed in many of Canada’s top comedy spots (Second City, Yuk Yuk’s, etc.)
Clif: I grew up in a lower middle class household in Georgetown Guyana. My mother, a music teacher, taught me that life can go very different ways depending on how you live it. After high school, my mother brought me up to Canada to continue at college where I earned a diploma in Business Administration from Humber College. I stumbled into a comedy club one night and decided to give it a try and since then I’ve been performing nonstop for three years. I've been featured at Yuk Yuks and Absolute Comedy in Toronto, The Comedy Nest and The Art Loft in Montreal as well as The Comedy Studio in Boston. In 2018, I had the great honor of having my one man show 'CLIF KNIGHT SUCKS!' at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Music, of course, has always been a constant in my life and when I combined it with comedy to help form ''GoodKnight" with Mark Goodman, it became an everyday fixture.
How long have you been interested in the environmental movement? What inspired you to take action?
GoodKnight: We’ve both been socially conscious people for our whole lives. In the last decade though, our interest in the environmental movement has raised significantly. And how could it not?!? Our parents’ generation had the excuse of living in ignorant bliss. But, we live in a time period where we know the damage we’re causing AND we also have the ability to solve it. This was our inspiration to take action. Too much of the world doesn’t want to fix anything and they’re just here for the ride. So if we can speak out and bring serious attention to this issue through a fun medium, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
Why the mesh between comedy and rap?
GoodKnight: Both members of GoodKnight have chosen comedy as their career. When you choose comedy as a career, you’re making a choice to make your passion your life's work. So the next question becomes how can you tie more of your passion into your work.
Mark: Rap is something that’s been special to me for a very long time. As a kid, my mom wouldn’t let me buy the album “The Eminem Show”, but that didn’t stop my sister from playing it every time we were in the car together, so much so that we know every word to “Say What You Say” (I’m Dre and she’s Em.) What started as breaking the rules turned into my favorite kind of music. Being a comedy rapper is one of my great joys in life, and something I know my inner child would be very proud of.
Are you interested in doing more environmental sets? What sorts of issues are you interested in? What kind of support do you need?
GoodKnight: We’re incredibly interested in doing more environmental sets! Frankly, there should be a lot more live shows calling attention to these issues. If you can entertain and educate at the same time, the education part is a little more likely to stick.
Clif: For us, our big concern areas outside of global warming are deforestation, water pollution, and overpopulation.
Mark: Not only are people getting bigger, but they’re also making more people!! Where the heck are we gonna put everybody?
Ha! Very true. What is the writing process like for you? In terms of the drawing board to the final process?
GoodKnight: Because we’re a team, the writing process is not necessarily quick. Typically we’ll come up with an idea together (or individually). We’ll break off and work on our assigned aspects of the idea. Once we finish our first drafts, we join forces again and create a unified second draft. This is arguably the hardest part. We go through and try to improve every part of the song, no matter who it was written by, or how attached to a lyric we might be. It’s hard to put a timetable to it, but depending on the project, we can typically put out new tracks from anywhere between one week to one month.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
GoodKnight: When you’re talking about comedy rap, the chief rocka number one, is Lil Dicky. He raises the bar so high, we’re not sure if we’ll be able to grab it.
Mark: As far as rap inspiration, my tastes are pretty old school. Notorious B.I.G., MF Doom, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan. On the newer end I’d say my top MC’s are Run The Jewels, Lil Dicky, and maybe Amine. I’d say my original biggest comedy inspiration was George Carlin. Before I knew what comedy was, I saw a set of his. And it was enough to know I love it!
GoodKnight: And, both of us are incredibly fortunate to have hard working and supportive families to keep pushing us towards our dream.
Keep up with GoodKnight Rhymes and their incredible performances here.