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Interview: Stephen K Amos
Wickedly funny comic Stephen K Amos is on tour and coming to Burnley.
COMEDIAN Stephen K Amos is hoping to end his month-long UK tour with a bang when he plays Burnley Mechanics on Sunday.
And he reckons audiences will be getting the funniest show he's done for months - because he's had so much practice.
"The show is called 'More of Me' and it's the show I did at Edinburgh Festival earlier this year," he said.
"By the time the people of Burnley see it it'll probably have changed quite a bit and hopefully they'll be getting the best bits because as a tour goes on you tend to tweak things here, extending the bits people laugh at most."
More Of Me is a personal show in which Stephen shares hilarious details about his childhood and teenage years.
It follows on from last year's show All Of Me, where he performed tender material about growing up gay in a British-African household.
Despite working the comedy circuit for the past 11 years, it's only been in the last two that Stephen has opened up and made his material personal.
"I'm trying to talk about myself a bit more in the hope that the audience can identify with me," he said. "I'm talking about peer pressure, school years, going to college.
"It's only in the last two years that I've started talking personally about my own life. Before that I did jokes and general stuff but then I thought I want to see how deep I can go with this.' I wanted to see if I could connect with the audience.
"In last year's tour I was talking candidly about my sexuality for the first time and how I feel about things, living as a man in London. I've been honest with myself and it's improved my performance enormously and I'm more successful than I've ever been.
"Before, I was all jazz hands. It was like jumping up and down shouting Love love, love me, I'm funny guy, I'm the clown'. Now I'm not ramming it down people's throats. If you speak honestly you can connect with people much more. You're giving them part of you and they take something positive away.
"The first time I tried to do the new stuff, I bottled it and just went back to my old act. I got on stage and looked at the people's faces in the crowd and I thought I can't do this' but I was so angry at myself I made sure I forced myself to do the new stuff the next night. The relief was amazing.
"Mind you, when my twin sister saw the show for the first time she was like You're talking about us! You can't do that!' There's even a bit where I do impressions of her, my mum and my dad and they're not exactly flattering. They're OK with it now though."
Although Stephen is most happy in the stand-up arena, he is no stranger to the TV screen, having appeared on shows like Have I Got News For You, Time Gentlemen Please, Mob Rule, The Casting Couch, Good Stuff, The 100 Greatest Scary Moments, Elvis Has Left The Building and, most recently, playing the part of a doctor in Eastenders.
He began a career in comedy during a stint travelling in America 11 years ago after finishing a law degree. A friend setting up a comedy club in London invited him to have a go at stand-up and the rest, as they say, is history.
"If it wasn't for that friend where would I be?" pondered Stephen.
"Maybe I'd have gone on to be a barrister. I'd have loved all the drama, saying M'lud' after everything. Maybe I'd have worked in a sweet shop. Who knows?"
Despite being an old hand, Stephen still sometimes finds himself having a hard time on stage.
"The worst heckle is the silent heckle," he said.
"When you're dying on stage it's awful, but it happens to every comedian from time to time. It keeps you in check.
"As for people who shout out from the audience, they don't bother me.
"The best heckle I ever heard was to my mate, who'll kill me for saying this.
"I slipped in the back of this club in Birmingham where he was performing and it was going really badly.
He told a joke to complete silence, then someone from the back shouted "Excuse me mate, are you on Faking It?"
I thought that was brilliant.
- See Stephen K Amos at Burnley Mechanics on Sunday, December 2. For tickets call 01282 664 400.