Review: Stephen K Amos’ ‘Welcome To My World’ at the Gulbenkian

It was a personal turned political affair for Stephen K Amos’ audience on Saturday evening.

Stephen K Amos can’t exactly remember how many times he’s been to Canterbury, but he is more than determined to get reacquainted. Limping on to the Gulbenkian’s stage with a bad foot, you already want to buy the guy a drink – and it is exactly this personable quality to his comedy that makes tonight’s show a pleasure. In classic comedian manner, he scours the front row for victims, conjuring up nicknames for three or four audience members and returning to them for quick jabs during his set. Seen it all before, right? 433px-StephenkamosBut Amos does something different; you get the feeling he really does want to get to know his audience. A show of hands identifies the age range of the crowd, and Amos makes friends with a fifteen year-old boy whose rapport with the comedian becomes a source of laughs throughout the show (particularly when the youngster discloses that he calls marijuana ‘the devil’s lettuce’). At one point he takes the phone of a front-seat audience member and reads out his text messages. Amos feeds off his audience, using their responses to formulate jokes, and establishes a friendship with his crowd that makes it feel like we are all sitting around having a laugh in the pub. His various anecdotes, from his experiences touring Australia, to his ordeal of being caught short whilst stuck in 5-hour traffic, emulate this atmosphere perfectly.

Returning for the second half with a fresh round of drinks, Amos subtly allows his set to take a political turn, addressing the audience with pin-drop questions like ‘Honestly, though, do you think it’s possible to live in a post-racial multicultural society?’ From a lesser comedian, making a transition like this might be jarring, spoiling the light-hearted mood that has so nicely manifested in the first half. However, Amos confronts issues of race and homosexuality with ease and good humour, flanking each subversive question with the same anecdotes and audience interaction that has characterised the show so far. The evening closes with a meet and greet in the foyer.

Hats off to Amos – few comedians can keep an audience on their side when they go from shitting in a car to tackling institutionalised racism and homophobia.




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