Stephen K Amos seems a likable guy. He posed for The Edinburgh Blog’s photo below, while waiting in the Pleasance Courtyard before his ‘More of me’ show; a follow up to last years ‘All of me’. Stephen enjoys alter ego creation and the beginning of this show proved no exception, with the wig wearing Reverend Jesse “Aloisha” Jones storming onto the stage. It’s not long before the Reverend has picked out a sinner in the front row, with the audience invited to nail home the point.
After the Reverend exits stage left, the real Stephen K Amos walked onto the stage. I’d never seen Amos perform before, but the clarity of his delivery and a terrifically at ease stage presence struck me straight away. His banter with the audience was brilliant throughout, with two students from Nottingham on the receiving end of numerous quips. Another audience member shouted out that Stephen had used the same joke last year. Stephen’s response was instant: shooting this down by asking if a Beatles audience would have interrupted a performance to say they’d played the same song last year. Things got a little stranger later on, when the same audience member showed Stephen (on his camera) a photo of himself from some time ago. Cue the audience being instructed to take a mental image of the camera wielding fan, should Stephen not survive the night.
Through the show we were introduced to more genuinely funny stories from Stephen’s childhood, such as living as the only black family in the neighbourhood when ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ was on TV. He went for the jugular when making a quip about Edinburgh’s ethnic make-up resembling a 1960’s London. This element of serious undertone ran through other sections of the show, another example being when Stephen visited Jamaica for the Channel 4 documentary ‘Batty Man’ in which he confronted homophobic songwriters. These were, of course, interspersed with funny sub-tales, such as the security guy assigned to Stephen and his film crew: a thin, joint smoking, old guy who had few worries in the world, least of all other peoples security.
Stephen’s delivery really is excellent. When he speaks you listen. He is able to switch in and out of characters i.e. he genuinely becomes actors in the tale he is telling, my favourites were impressions of his father and mother.
The serious undertones were back when Stephen’s stereotyping career adviser was mentioned - the adviser tried to persuade Stephen into becoming a tube driver or bus conductor. Stephen overcame these ethnic hurdles, and this introduced the key theme running through the show. This was to see the lighter side in things (the funnies) and make the most of the opportunities you are given, no matter what the obstacles. Stephen was keen to stress that opportunities for younger people were much better now than they were in his day; so a bit of inspiration thrown in as well!
The show ended with Stephen singing a song to which the audience had to deliver the chorus, about bringing shame on your family. It really worked, especially as the audience had consumed a generous amount of alcohol beforehand, meaning no hesitation to join in.
I can see a lot more TV work being offered to Stephen K Amos and have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of him, not just at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe or the occasional TV show. Very good show - great performer - 5 stars.
The Edinburgh Blog will shortly be reviewing Frank Skinner, Bad Film Club and Richard Dawkins’ appearance at the Edinburgh Book Festival.