Ikechukwu Ufomadu: Amusements – Soho Theatre, London

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Midway through his set at Soho Theatre, Ike Ufomadu announces that one of his favourite hobbies is “enunciating”. It may be a joke, but every word he pronounces is crystal clear, even the words he feigns to stumble over. He’s a good mimic too, especially when he launches into an impressive Michael Caine monologue. But the problem with the Texan’s 60-minute routine is that it is too slick and too polished to the extent that the energy usually created by live performance ebbs away quicker than it should.

There are no hesitations here, no ums and ahs that traditional British comedians revel in and this gives the impression that Ufomadu has memorised a script and the audience may as well not be there. When he does venture into the audience, the interaction is safe; there’s very little that can go wrong. The audience will say what is expected removing the unpredictability that should accompany stand-up. There’s a sense that Ufomadu’s show will be the same every night.

This isn’t to say he isn’t funny, however. Wearing a tuxedo, Ufomadu cuts an endearing figure as he comes onto stage, sipping from a cup of tea and putting on glasses to try and read out his name. But this awkwardness is too soon replaced by long skits that don’t always land. For instance, he reads the opening paragraph from Moby Dick or a lengthy quote from Stanislavski but it’s a protracted way to finish a joke that isn’t that funny. More successful are the shorter gags and puns. These please the crowd more.

Ofomadu has also got a great voice, and the Alphabet Song has never sounded so jazzy as when he performs it. He’s all the making of a top-class impressionist, although that career choice would definitely be an old-fashioned one if he were to go in that direction. So, the title of his show, Amusements, is an apt one. There are no belly laughs here, but it’s nevertheless amusing and each skit is competently presented even if there is no overarching narrative so common in comedy nowadays.

He makes no bones about ‘performing’ as a comedian or the fact that he is working when he is on stage, but you can’t help but wish that he would drop the act and be simply himself. In a world where comedians bare their souls on stage, Ike Ofomadu certainly stands out for being different. But this may not be a good thing.

Runs until 2 March 2024

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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