This British master of stand-up is back, with another cheeky, opinionated and fundamentally warm-hearted show.
Stephen K Amos.
Year after year, Stephen K Amos is among the most reliably funny internationals at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. This British master of stand-up is back, with another cheeky, opinionated and fundamentally warm-hearted show, The Story So Far ... However, amid his usual adroit handling of the chaos that a little audience participation throws up, the witty observations and quick, breezy big dick jokes, there’s a sense of taking stock.
After an amusing false start due to an unexpected ice-cream and can of booze, Amos sets to work engaging with a few random audience members. There’s a bit of ribbing, but for the most part he’s just up for an interested (if necessarily fairly one-sided) chat with these folks, weaving their responses into a show that, sometimes very genuinely, settles into themes of family, ageing and loss.
There are some classic laughs at the expense of his parents, who migrated to the UK from Nigeria, and whose accents he replicates with affectionate humour. There are anecdotes about how age is slowing him down, changing him (Amos is 51), including a snorter comparing how a man pees in his youth and middle age. And there are poignant revelations about the family losses he has endured recently. They led him to question if he could keep being funny for a living – but there he stood, reviving what he described as one of his oldest jokes, about one of his seven siblings.
The other key theme is race. It’s surely an eternal source of irritation and humour for this black man, who tells us about lashing out on some fancy digs during the Edinburgh Fringe only to find a painting of a certain racist 20th century toy taking pride of place. It’s the start of a multifaceted comic expose of how dismissing seemingly harmless words and symbols means dismissing the lived experience of those who recognise their inherent racism. Thank-you, Stephen, for reminding us that Coon cheese is somehow still a thing in Australia!
If you’re catching his latest offering in Melbourne, consider bringing some cash because Amos meets the audience on their way out, collecting donations for a local charity that’s related to those themes of family, ageing and loss. Apparently he’s already raised thousands of dollars this way just from the first few days of The Story So Far ...
Which goes to show how well this hour works. It’s thoughtful. It’s a little bit interactive – an extremely good-natured heckle, which looped back to that false start and brought the house down, would never have happened without the friendly mood the man with the mic created. It’s got precision timing, sincerity and cheeky charm. Which is why Stephen K Amos is once again among the funniest internationals at this year’s festival.
4 stars: ★★★★
Stephen K Amos - The Story So Far...
28 March - 7 April 2019
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne
Also performing at Sydney Comedy Festival, 23-29 April 2019