Comedy Festival - Stephen K. Amos
Opera House, April 30
Reviewed by Simon Sweetman
British comedian Stephen K Amos doesn't seem to be sure whether his act is an almost-poignant set of autobiographical tales, verging on therapy, or simply an excuse to rather lazily subvert risque and racist jokes by serving them with a smile.
His is a comedy act you cannot hate - because he is somewhat charming and his motive does appear to be to create laughter (a suitable goal for a comedian). But it was a strange set, an odd hour that passed with Amos barely in control of the thread.
That was my issue with this show - the fact that it seemed like it wanted to be smarter. That's where Amos' charm morphs into smarm; there's a feel to the show that suggests the subversion is clever, that Amos really has something to say.
It would be nice if that was true - and if he did. But too often it falls away, Amos trying to be a pimp and a player and then reminding that he came from nothing, that he had a hard life growing up.
Like so many comedians before him - and sadly there will be too many that will follow - Amos is sure that because he can talk the talk he can walk the walk. Not always.
Perhaps the most memorable moment in the show was when he was interrupted by an oddly confident audience member who, as the comedian put it, decided to "heckle with a joke".
Amos gave him his moment and when the amateur's gag bombed ("two cannibals eating a clown, one turns to the other and says does this taste funny to you?") Amos had the gift of a riposte: "it's not easy, is it?"
Unfortunately, it wasn't just the amateur that proved that. But Amos seemed to enjoy himself.
And there was laughter beyond the stage. Maybe playing the jester is all that is required - especially if you declare your years of experience and international following when you enter through NZ Customs.
Amos isn't the first international comedian I've seen reading new jokes off paper. I found that insulting. And profoundly unfunny.
- The Dominion Post
Have you read Kiwi author Eleanor Catton's Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries?Related story: What now for Eleanor Catton?