The following is reprinted from Public Domain, the summer magazine of The Public Theater in New York, with the editor's permission. Copyright 1996 The Public Theater.
Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk: it's not just a cutting-edge musical, it's a cultural and linguistic phenomenon.
You can't turn on the TV these days without seeing the cast of Noise/Funk--on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" (twice!), on Letterman, on every major morning program. And the show's being incorporated into the plots of television shows as well: in an upcoming episode of "Mad About You," Jamey (Helen Hunt) has a special night out with her mother (played by Carol Burnett) seeing . . . Bring in 'Da Noise!
And, as Noise/Funk's popularity and acclaim spread this spring and summer, so did the usage of the phrase "Bring in 'Da . . ." in the popular culture, to describe everything from arts events to political rivalries to religious gatherings.
Sports caricaturist Bill Gallo used the phraseology in a cartoon, calling Michael Jordan "Da Noise" and Dennis Rodman "Da Funk." It showed up in "Hot Sheets" Entertainment Weekly, in an item about the 1996 political conventions: "The cast of Rent performed for the Democrats. The Republicans went with Keep Out 'Da Noise, Keep Out 'Da Funk." It showed up in headlines in virtually every major New York newspaper: The New York Times Book Review titled a review of a volume about musical innovator Charles Ives "Bring in da Noise" and an article about a Smithsonian road show "Bring in the car, Bring in the Hat." "Summerstage will bring in 'da Funk" trumpeted Newsday. "Bring in 'Da Chops" demanded a New York Post restaurant New York magazine took a particular shine to the wording. They used it in captions ("Bring in 'Da Divas"), in preview articles ("Jazz trumpeter Nicholas Payton brings in 'da noise, funk, etc. At the Village Vanguard"). And the magazine's theater critic used it to beat That Other Downtown/Uptown musical over its head: in his review of Rent, John Simon complained that the title of that show's first act finale, "La Vie Boheme," actually used improper French grammar; the phrase should be "La Vie de Boheme." Wrote Simon, "I was tempted to yell at the stage, 'Bring in 'da "de"!"
On a New York Post story about the search for a new male bachelor idol to replace the recently-married John Kennedy Jr., the headline read "Bring in 'da Boys, bring in 'da Hunk."
Those tricky wordsmiths at Variety headlined an article about this year's pre-Tony Awards fracas "Lotsa Noise, Funk Mar Tony Noms." And the New York Daily News, in perhaps the most implausible usage of all, titled a column item about a visit of members of the Sera Je monastery to New York "Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Monks."
The phrase entered the spoken language as well. In his speech accepting an Obie award for his performance as the father of sadism in the off-Broadway show Quills, Rocco Sisto quipped that he wished he could rename that show Bring in 'da Whips, Bring in de Sade.
But The Public Theater knew it was really onto something when the phrase appeared in that most coveted of pop-culture outlets: a New Yorker cartoon--of a businessman sitting behind his desk with his hand on the intercom: the caption reads: "Ms. Dixon, Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk!."