Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
It is hard to avoid the impression that the success of Stephen K. Amos is attributable not to what he says but to the manner in which he says it. His new tour is entitled World Famous but, although some of the routines take inspiration from casual racism Amos experienced while touring in places like Australia, topics like travel or cultural differences hardly feature in the show and his level of fame is not mentioned at all.
Likewise, Amos’s approach to topical humour seems cursory. He tends to rattle off a list of topics – trident missiles, the election of Donald Trump- but not explore them in any depth. Racial stereotyping is given a bit more thought but the only topic to which Amos devotes any real time exploring is the disappointingly mundane subject of social media. Even then his insight does not seem particularly piercing more gently bemused as he attempts to understand, say, the obsession with posting pictures of food.
There is, however, no doubting Amos’s sincerity when he says that the appeal of a live show is that, unlike social media, it is a communal event in which everyone can become involved. This is where Amos excels – he has an amazing rapport with the audience and seems to take genuine pleasure in being upstaged by hecklers so that a party-like atmosphere builds quickly and never really dies down. Amos cheerfully praises the audience at The Lowry for being so hard that they ignored the fire alarms that went off during the support act.
If Amos had a catch phrase it would have to be ‘But I digress’ as, for most of World Famous, the comedian simply goes off at odd tangents prompted by remarks from the audience. It is impressive to watch Amos improvise and spin comedy gold out of the most unpromising comment yelled from the audience. The skill does, however, have limits as Amos does not seem to appreciate that his attention simply encourages punters some of whom keep offering opinions long after they have ceased to be funny.
Amos claims to be breaking in new material at The Lowry and some of it is literally toilet humour with an unpleasant routine on the correct way to wipe your backside. With such a ramshackle approach it is inevitable that World Famous does not really reach a climax but rather stumbles to a halt. Amos is determined, however, to give full value for money and concludes with his classic routines inspired by his family that never get old.
Reviewed on 5 February 2017