Stephen K Amos on baring all and his big break ahead of Norwich show
PUBLISHED: 11:15 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:15 30 January 2019
James Penlidis Photography C. all rights reserved 2012
Comedian and panel show favourite Stephen K Amos explains what makes a good comedian and why you should never stand on stage with secrets as his latest show Bouquets and Brickbats comes to the Norwich Playhouse.
Stephen K Amos was one of seven children growing up in London and used comedy as a way to stand out amongst his peers.
Fast forward to 2019 and the 51-year-old has entertained audiences around the world and appeared on shows including QI, Live at the Apollo and Have I Got News For You.
He has also taken on more serious projects including Channel 4 documentary Batty Man on homophobia in the black British community and Jamaica.
Ahead of his show in Norwich on February 4, Stephen reveals all about the new tour and how his discussion of LGBT and racial issues in his act has helped others.
What can people expect from Bouquets and Brickbats and how did the tour get its name?
It’s about the last 18 months and the funny things that have happened, particularly last year’s Me Too movement in Hollywood, the divisions with Donald Trump and closer to home with Brexit but it’s not dwelling on the negative but finding the funny.
You always have to think of a title around 18 months before you write the show so I wanted something quite witty and snappy and reflects where I’m at.
At the moment there is good and bad, ying and yang, sunshine and hurricane and what is better than that?
Looking at the news over the past year, has it been easy to create material?
It’s not easy as I don’t tackle those subjects in an obvious way as all the jokes about Brexit and Donald Trump are already all over social media and people are sick of them.
The show isn’t hung up on those issues and it is more about human experience.
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What sort of audiences do you get at your shows?
You can’t pin down my demographic and sometimes there is three generations of a family with teenage kids, their parents and grandparents.
People of all different backgrounds, religion and race and I strive for audiences who wouldn’t necessarily all connect to laugh at the same things.
What do you think makes a good comedian?
You’ve got to be relevant, funny, thought-provoking and have a wonderfully different eye and take on things.
There has also been amazing benefits of social media as those people who didn’t have a voice in comedy do now, including women, people with disabilities and religious people, as 20 years ago most of those groups wouldn’t have gone to a comedy club for fear of being ridiculed.
How did you first get your big break and when did you first discover your love of comedy?
My parents came from Nigeria to London in the 1960s and I was one of seven children born smack bang in the middle with my twin.
There wasn’t many black families in my street and school so comedy was a way I could blend in.
I first got my big break when I went travelling in America in the early 1990s and met a good friend of mine over a weekend in New York and she laughed and laughed and said had I ever thought of doing comedy and it went from there.
Why do you think it is important to discuss LGBT and racial issues in your act?
The thing is, I never wanted to stand on stage with secrets and if you’re honest and can talk about subjects you know then you can make it funny.
I had no idea how many people my documentary Batty Man would resonate with and was a bit naive but I was overwhelmed with the people who have reached out.
It has also been used as an educational tool in prisons and schools and I have young people telling me their stories and it is very humbling.
What is your favourite panel show to appear on?
QI as you don’t get a sense of competitiveness and it is also a learning curve and the show is highly entertaining with a generous host.
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Why should people come and see Bouquets and Brickbats?
If you’ve not seen me live I highly recommend me.
When you do TV or radio you are constrained by certain rules, regulations and compliance issues and in a way are speaking on behalf of the broadcaster.
When I’m live I can say what I like and I’m my own self-editor.
Describe your comedy style in three words...
Honest, autobiographical and hilarious
Stephen K Amos comes to the Norwich Playhouse on February 4 at 7.30pm and tickets cost £17.50 and are available from norwichplayhouse.co.uk, in person at the box office or by phone on 01603 598598.