Stephen K Amos: All Of Me

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Stephen K Amos has so much ebullient, effervescent good cheer, he has to get it out of his system somehow. All Of Me is supposed to be about Amos laying himself bare ­ hence the rather cheeky posters around Edinburgh.

But in true schizophrenic style, he has to separate the real him from the outrageous, charismatic and playfully mocking stage character. So he comes on as an exaggerated version of that already over-the-top persona ­ an arrogant, wisecracking African prince who relentlessly taunts the audience with a barrage of banter and put-downs.

It's all standard compering fare, about where the punters are from, what they are wearing, how posh they are ­ with more than its fair share of bog-standard lines but a hell of a lot of energy. He gets to build up the audience's emotions for himself, rather than giving it away to someone else, as is the usual lot of the MC.

In this character, which does go on a bit too long, Amos forcefully pushes himself at the crowd, who are impotent against the strength of his personally. When he returns as himself, there's a complete volte-face in his style. Now he's quieter, more subdued, drawing the audience in to him, but still with that tongue-in-cheek wit that serves him so well.

Amos is a real charmer, there's no denying that, setting up the perfect mood for his fairly straightforward autobiographical story. Poor upbringing. Only black kid at school, other than his twin sister. Demanding mother. Went back to stay with relatives Nigeria, didn't fit in there either. Then back to the UK to be a law student. Discovered stand-up in New York. And here he is now. The tale might not unique, but he does tell it in a compelling, always amusing way, with strong jokes lining the route.

And he also reveals something important about himself that he's never publicly acknowledged before, even though it's been an open secret in comedy circles for a while. We won't mention it out of context here for fear of spoiling the moment, but it happens to provide a lovely payoff to the show, too.

There's no such thing as a bad hour in Amos's company, and this has some substantial material to match.

Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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