"If I had all the right answers I'd be a politician not a comedian."
Genial UK comedian Stephen K Amos has long been renowned as a 'feelgood' entertainer, someone whose natural charm and exuberance for life in general makes an audience with him feel effortlessly cathartic. As you'd expect, however, there's more to it than just turning up and being funny.
"I believe any stand-up has to work very hard, and my particular style of comedy is to kind of make you think that I'm a friend of yours: I'm very conversational and you can just imagine me sitting in a bar or a club with you making you laugh," he offers. "But there is kind of method to the madness: in my head there's a structure and I know exactly where I'm going to go with the next line, but I do leave enough room to be able to improvise and be in the moment."
"I'm very conversational and you can just imagine me sitting in a bar or a club with you making you laugh."
Amos has been globetrotting and causing mirth for over 15 years now, but he doesn't believe that longevity need lead to a creative drought. "I don't think it's possible to run out [of ideas]," he reflects. "Initially, I used to look back at my life or at things that made me laugh or that maybe that weren't funny at the time, but what I do now is I look at the world and the world is always changing, so there's always a story happening every single day — every single one of us has a story, a point of view. As long as there's news there's comedy to be had."
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Watching the news can be terrifying these days, so in some ways we need laughter more than ever. "There's two things there — you've got either those people who want to escape all the negativity and just laugh so there are comics who will avoid that, and then there are other comics who will use that stuff and turn it into funnies," Amos tells. "I do believe again in freedom of speech and I think that any subject is worthy of tackling for a laugh, as long as that intent is clear — as long as the intent is clear, in the right hands a great comic can talk about any subject.
"I used to think that comedians had an obligation to educate as well as entertain until I spoke to a very, very well-known international comedian who said to me, a) it's not your job to be an educator, and b) every comic will find his or her own time, when they feel comfortable, to approach a subject. As long as we all have an opinion then there's nothing to say that my opinion is right, so my job is to highlight an opinion and then put it out there with a fun spin, because if I had all the right answers I'd be a politician not a comedian.
"The good thing is that as a comedian I can tackle any subject without an agenda. So when I talk about homophobia or racism, generally people in the audience know where I stand and it can be both funny and thought-provoking."