Laughter is the best medicine says comic Stephen

SLEEPING through his twin sister’s wedding was nothing to laugh about, but it inspired Stephen K Amos to look at those dark moments we all have when laughter really is the best medicine.

“I was very flattered when she asked me to be the best man. The week before the wedding, I had been working incredibly hard, getting up at six every morning to make my TV series,” says the comedian.

“On the morning of the wedding I pressed the snooze-button on my alarm and overslept. I was mortified. I missed the wedding and got to the reception just in time to see my mum reading out bits from my 1982 diary, much to the hilarity of everyone in the room!

“That gave me the thought that whatever horrors you’re experiencing in that moment, those very traumatic, dark things that happen at various points in our life when right then you can’t laugh because there’s no place to, when you look back, you will.

“For example, when you fall in love for the first time you think it’ll last forever. It doesn’t and you think you’ll never love again, but you do and you look back on who you were then and you laugh.”

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That boyhood diary has a starring role on the tour, with Stephen reading excerpts.

“In one I say ‘At school, my friend got a brand-new pair of Adidas trainers and I asked mum if I could have some, too. So she went to the market and bought me a pair for �3. The only problem was the name on the side of the shoes was Abibas. I told mum my friend’s trainers cost �50 and were much better and she replied ‘Well, go and live with him then!’

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“At the time, it was obviously all so painful and meaningful, but now it’s just hilarious. The diary charts the ups and downs of my life. It shows that my sense of humour is still the same. I’m still the same mischievous lad. It’s just that now I’ve got an audience, as opposed to keeping it all to myself.”

He promises a rant-free couple of hours, with all the doom and gloom of everyday life left on the doorstep.

“I’m very much a positive thinking kind of person; I don’t want people coming to my show and me remind them of all that. If you can spend a couple of hours forgetting about it by having a laugh, great. We’re in danger of losing our positivity - some comics are just about being cruel and nasty and that’s just not my bag.

“People say ‘comics have to be edgy and swear’. I don’t swear in normal life and I don’t swear on stage. You don’t need to add the F word to bring a joke to life.”

Stephen, who shot to fame on ITV1’s The Royal Variety Performance, does believe in leaving his audience with something to think about on the journey home.

“I put lots of subtle things in. There’s no point me preaching to the audience ‘look at the coalition government, how cruel they are’; we all know that. If I can get deeper into the realms of sexuality, race, life experiences, that’s where I’d rather be. I express my own truth and stories that happened to me that have a funny twist.

“There’s nothing worse than seeing a comic on stage performing to thousands, ranting about the situation of the world without being funny. We all know what’s happening around the world, you’re just pointing it out to us and we’re sitting here paying you to do that. I’d like people to go away with a couple of thoughts about the world we live in. Above all, I’d like them to leave with a big smile.”

He should hear in the next couple of weeks if his hit BBC2 series The Stephen K Amos Show will return. Stephen says all involved learned a lot from the experience and there’re things he would do differently. At the time he was making it, he thought it’d be going out pre-watershed rather than 10pm on a Friday.

“It’s the first one I’ve ever done and I’m very proud of it but nothing beats live stand-up,” he says. “You’re in the moment. There is no edit button. If something happens there and then, you just run with it.

“Also, if someone pipes up in the auditorium and we start a dialogue, that’s terrific. As long as people want to come out and see me and enjoy what I do I’ll keep doing it.”

I have to ask, did his sister forgive him? “Oh my goodness,” he laughs. “Yes, she did.”

Stephen K Amos, The Best Medicine, is at the Regent, Ipswich, on February 12.

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