Stephen K Amos says he doesn’t like reviewers - which is a shame, because it’s hard to see how reviewers could not like him.
A lot of comedians will stand up and perform their show, and you’ll leave having laughed for an hour… and that’s it. There’s no real sense of engagement, no sense that the jokes they made were special, that they were for your group of punters and yours alone.
Amos is not one of these. While he has his scripted gags to do, a lot of his show is reliant on crowd involvement. He won’t drag you up on stage, but he’ll pause mid-thought to ask the crowd a question and he’ll even re-arrange seating as he sees fit (bringing one family seated near the back up to the front… then proceeding to tease the two teenage sons throughout the show).
In fact this stuff is his strong point. While his jokes are funny, he really comes into his own when he’s performing off the cuff – like interrogating a Scottish couple in the front row, or commenting “how times have changed” after a pakeha stagehand brought him a beer.
His written material still stands up on its own, but on reflection it lacks that special glow of involvement.
Even if you know he’s repeating gags from other shows, they’ll still seem personal. It’s a tough thing to articulate, but he’s perfected the art of inclusion.
Incredibly articulate, he manages to round out a large number of global issues and challenge people’s perceptions – but you won’t realise it at the time. There are racial elements to his set, as one of seven children born to Nigerian parents and raised in London, it would be almost impossible for Amos to avoid racial gags. But that background also gives him a huge number of yarns to spin.
You know how your grandparents would make you help in the garden as a child and you’d enjoy hanging out with them but not get the same satisfaction as when they let you plant something of your own and watch it grow? That’s the comparison I’m angling for here.
It’s one thing to get an easy clap saying ‘it’s great to be here, I love New Zealand’, but Amos sells that line. He could easily be a car salesman if he wanted to.
Unlike many of today’s comedians you can feel safe taking your parents along, because it always stays well within the limits and after his show, you’ll walk out with that indescribable warm feeling of being involved.
By now anybody sitting in the first two rows of a Stephen K Amos show knows they stand a very good chance of becoming part of the gig. And they should feel honoured.
Such a regular visitor here he's become a local comedy favourite, this blisteringly funny Brit is clearly at the top of his game.
To rapturous applause, but refusing to rest on his laurels, Amos strode on to the stage with clipboard in hand. His intention: to mark down what gags he'd keep and what ones he'd dump from his next gig.
There were guffaws aplenty in material he had prepared earlier: sorting out the Gillard-Rudd rivalry, the Australian anxiety over banana prices, his strict Nigerian parents, his time in the Boy Scouts, the perils of having "dual heritage". It was all fabulous.
But it was when riffing with the audience that Amos truly excelled. With a packed venue already on-side, he wasted no time drawing people into his routines; his finely honed hair-trigger comic sensibility turned innocent remarks into pure comedy gold.
At one point he even went platinum. When one hapless young man said how he tended to "steer away from interracial porn", Amos went nuclear. The audience was in stitches as he spent five minutes trying to unpack the puzzling quip.
It was one of a dozen times when Amos proved himself a true master of free-form comedy. The guy is now so proficient his ability to elicit massive laughs from the smallest thing appears effortless.
And hecklers be warned: if there's one thing Amos loves more than making fun of critics it's smacking down those foolish enough to interrupt his flow. Better just to secure a seat well out of his firing line, shut up and revel as Amos takes flight.
thebarefootreview.com.au'Amos keeps his audience gasping and laughing with a torrent of family stories and his own take on parenthood, the value of one versus multiple offspring.'open/close
Boldly stating Laughter is my Agenda, he happily succeeded with an eager and vocal Wednesday night crowd.
In true Amos fashion, his new show is full of slightly wrong but always funny quips and tales, mainly focused on his childhood as one half of a twin set in family of seven children. Making light of his parent's 'interesting' (read: concerning) child-rearing techniques, Amos keeps his audience gasping and laughing with a torrent of family stories and his own take on parenthood, the value of one versus multiple offspring, and the political woes of "Goulia Jillard" and the Australian Labour Party.
Over the hour-long show, Amos balanced a smooth mix of improv and pre-written material, and his comedy credentials were on show as he handled some bizarre heckling with practiced ease.
Always a good laugh, this show shouldn't disappoint those familiar with Amos's previous appearances. Grab a seat for a funny night out.