Stephen K Amos – Laughter is My Agenda!
Stephen K Amos @ Arts Theatre
5:00pm, Sun 4 Mar 2012
It’s been a few years since I’d thrown some money in the general direction of Stephen K Amos – he’s always on The Shortlist whenever he’s in town, but is often dropped because… well, I’ll generally favour something new over something familiar. That’s not to say that Amos retreads the same ground with his comedy… just that you know exactly what to expect from one of his shows.
For example, he susses his front couple of rows out very early on, and zeroes in on the person who gives him a witless answer to one of his questions; that person becomes the Callback for the entire show, with Amos conjuring humorous derision incredibly well. This evening’s Callback, Alistair, squirmed into his front-row seat a few minutes late. Incredulous, Amos demanded to know why an eighteen-year-old would be so late to a show – does he have a demanding job? No, replied Alistair, I “do nothing.” “Nothing?” raved Amos, “What does that mean? Where do you go in the morning after you wake up?”
“The kitchen,” came the answer, cementing Alistair the Callback position for the evening.
But there were other audience members who made Amos’ job easy; the guy who forgot to turn his phone off copped a river of faux rage. And one chap, sitting at the rear of the Arts, felt obliged to yell out a slightly delayed “no” anytime Amos queried the entire audience – “any Nigerians in the house tonight?” was followed by “are you enjoying yourself?” for a self-denigratory laugh.
It’s just as well Amos is quick on his feet dealing with unruly audience members, though, because the rest of this evening’s show felt remarkably lacklustre (by the standards I’ve come to expect of him). There’s some early Clipsal-related gags, references to the Gillard/Rudd kerfuffle, and some audience interaction bits (focusing on mixed-race children), before he settles into somewhat familiar work revolving around his family. To be fair, he did explain that he was trialling new material, and he was often able to elicit a laugh from picking up his notes and crossing jokes out with an extravagant flourish… but there was still a little something missing from the content this evening.
As an aside, Amos mentions that on the opening night of this season, an audience member had (in response to a comment on Obama’s racial heritage) yelled out “Oi Stephen, Obama’s mum was white, you c#nt” – and, as much as I dislike that much audience protrusion into a show, I almost wish I’d caught that show instead. That’s not to say that Amos has lost his touch – he’s still one of the quickest and most disarming comedians around, able to make you laugh hysterically whilst feeling thankful he’s not picking on you… it’s just that something was lacking in this timeslot.