Interview: Stephen K. Amos
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Sophy Coombes-Roberts chats to funny man Stephen K Amos ahead of his new tour ‘The Spokesman’. I could all but laugh when worldwide comedy veteran Stephen K Amos told me he was excited to gig in Exeter next month. A big star in America, Australia, New Zealand and of course right here in the UK, Amos admitted to only having visited the city of Exeter once before. Naturally, I have promised him a night to remember, when in fact, it is he who will be delivering an unforgettable evening to those in attendance at his show. His new tour is called ‘The Spokesman’, an anagram of his name. “Not a lot of people spot that” Amos pointed out, “it is very clever of me I think”. He spent the summer testing out his material for the new show at the Edinburgh Fringe “to try and see what sticks - not everything is going to be funny and that’s why you need to go out on a limb and try it, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work and if it does then you get that gem of an idea and it’s worth it.” Regardless, he informs me that much of his material did make it into the tour and having seen ‘Work in Progress’ (his Fringe show) in August I predict the full fledged gig will certainly not leave the audience short of laughter. So how does he write his shows? Strangely enough it differs each time, he tells me: “Sometimes I will sit and be very meticulous about it and do five hours writing and see what happens, and then other times if something comes to me I just write it. Alternatively, I just grab my friends and say can we just have a chat and see what happens; invariably they often come out with the most outrageous things.” Of course Amos is a dab hand at this now having been on the circuit for over ten years, yet he admits it is still “so tempting just to keep rehashing out the same stuff but the point is you need to try and stretch yourself every year in a new show”. Obviously, his die-hard fans love his old sets and Amos seems very aware of that, exclaiming, “What is the point in going out with the same old stuff? I know it works, so it is always a good challenge to try something new”. Being a global comedian Amos does not just write material to please us Brits, but is a regular performer ‘down under’ and in America. “Lots of audiences are very different,” he explains whilst discussing collating material for his global tours. “What might work really well one night could fall flat on its face the next night, you just have to keep trying and have faith in it, really.” However, the reception his material receives around the globe is essentially the same: we speak the same language, have similar history and all find Stephen’s comedy a hoot. Nevertheless, things are a little different in the States. He laughs: “When I am over in America the main difference I find is that people tend to scream a lot more.” At this point Amos proceeds to imitate a fanatic shouting after which we both pause for laughter, “and I could do without that, but a reaction is a reaction, right?” He jokes: “the Americans are not used to seeing a British person, let alone a black British person so they always ask: “Oh my gawd, do you know the Queen?” But I just play along with it and usually reply something like: “Of course I know the Queen, I just had breakfast with her last week.” Over the course of our interview thus far, Stephen has failed to disappoint. He comes across just as he does on the TV: likeable, charming and a really good laugh. I couldn’t help but probe if he was like this all the time, a constant funny man? “I’ve always been a gregarious type of person” he replies, “but I don’t go around being funny twenty-four-seven, how annoying and irritating would that be? The weirdest thing about that is that people think I am funny all the time and expect me to say jokes constantly, so in a social situation where I don’t know that many people I tend not to say anything, because I know if I do they will say: “He’s not funny at all.’”
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