'One of the smartest, dumbest things I've ever stumbled across...' | Ike Ufomadu picks his Perfect Playlist of comedy favourites

'One of the smartest, dumbest things I've ever stumbled across...'

Ike Ufomadu picks his Perfect Playlist of comedy favourites

American comedian Ike Ufomadu – described by Vulture as ‘the gentleman-scholar of alt-comedy’ – is heading to the UK next week for a run of his show Amusements. Here he takes us through his Perfect Playlist of comedy favourites…

Johnny Carson's final Tonight Show

I could have made the whole playlist with various clips from this one episode of television. It’s funny watching it now and seeing how many little elements have wormed their way into my act.

I'll just focus in on Carson’s farewell speech, which really fascinated me for a long time. It even sent me down a rabbit hole of watching and studying other televised farewell speeches, from Oprah, Regis Philbin, Walter Cronkite and others. It makes me reflect on the unique nature of the relationship between a performer and their audience.

Howard Cosell's Introduction to Frank Sinatra's The Main Event concert

There is something so strange, yet utterly entertaining and charming about sports broadcasting legend Howard Cosell giving the introduction to Frank Sinatra’s 1974 concert at Madison Square Garden in New York. When I first discovered this intro, I would play it over and over and over again, and eventually memorised it. And from time to time, out of nowhere, I’ll recite it to myself, just to experience it again.

There's something delightfully formal and ceremonial at play here, which are elements that often find their way into my work.

The Rap from Look Around You

I’m a huge fan of the show Look Around You, and this clip captures so much of what I love about it. The whole show walks this fine line between faithful homage and silly parody. For some reason, projects that walk that line get big laughs out of me.

When coming up with material, I often mine familiar elements of everyday life and search for ways to make those elements seem strange without losing touch with what makes them so familiar. Why I’m drawn to doing this, I don’t know. I’ll leave it to the comedy scholars of future generations to make sense of it.

Andy Kaufman as Tony Clifton singing the National Anthem

Why does this show open with the National Anthem? Well, why do sports games open with the National Anthem? Why does the Super Bowl have an entire show at half-time? Should productions of Hamlet have an abbreviated exhibition game of football played during intermission?

The opening bit of this special (and all the rest of the special, too) makes me reflect on how entertainment is structured and why and whether there's some other way out there to do it.

Conan O'Brien on Johnny Carson

After Johnny Carson passed away, Conan O'Brien used a segment of his old talk show to share a story or two or three about his interactions with the former monarch of American late-night television.

There's a piece of advice Carson gave O'Brien when the latter was starting out, which was, ‘Just be yourself. It's the only way it can work.’

It's a line that's stuck around in my brain for a good many years now that at times has served as something of a North Star in navigating making work in this business of show.

English Sports

One of the smartest, dumbest things I've ever stumbled across on the internet. I remember it once every five years or so and give it another watch. I guess it's similar to Look Around You, where there's this feeling of watching something familiar, but there's so much that is so off.

Disorienting in the most entertaining way. Has the word ‘yes’ ever been played to such wonderful comic effect?

• Amusements​ by Ike Ufomadu in on at Soho Theatre from February 26 to March 2.

Published: 20 Feb 2024

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.