Stephen K Amos

Genesis Energy Theatre, Telstra Clear Pacific Events Centre, Manakau, Auckland

10/05/2007 - 10/05/2007

SKY CITY Theatre, Auckland

11/05/2007 - 12/05/2007

San Francisco Bathhouse, 171 Cuba St, Wellington

15/05/2007 - 19/05/2007

Production Details

Stephen K Amos


TimeOUT UK – Best Stand-up Comedian of 2004

“We gut ourselves laughing” The Scotsman.

STEPHEN K AMOS’ powerful presence was recognised when he won THE SPIRIT OF THE FESTIVAL AWARD at the 2005 NZ International Comedy Festival following his debut headlining THE BIG SHOW. He returned to the Festival in 2006 with a 2 week sell-out solo season at The CLASSIC.

So, by public demand, STEPHEN K returns in 2007 for a strictly limited run in Auckland at the Genesis Theatre in Manukau and SKYCITY Theatre in Auckland City before making his debut in Wellington and beyond on the Comedy Convoy.

Amos is at the top of his game following solo shows at the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Edinburgh Fringe which attracted glowing reviews and the 2004 TIMEOUT Award for ‘Best Live Stand-up Comedian’. summed it up when they said “Stephen K Amos is the embodiment of charisma. From the first minute to the last, he never lets the audience out of the palm of his hand. Amos’s show is packed with well observed material performed hilariously. His affection for the audience is the killer blow, culminating in an all singing, all dancing party to which everyone is invited. No one could possibly have left this feel good show without a beaming smile on their face. A real stormer.” 

“Where do you start describing a performer who really should be given six out of five? It’s pure cheek numbing tear-inducing entertainment.” *****Sunday Express UK 

“Positively luminescent … damn lovable …a master entertainer”. METRO UK 

Dates:  Thur 10 May, 8pm
Venue:  TelstraClear Event Center, 770 Great South Rd, Manukau
Bookings:  TicketDirect 0800 224 224
Dates:  Fri 11 & Sat 12 May
Venue:  SKYCITY Theatre, Cnr Wellesley & Hobson Sts, Auckland City
Bookings:  Ticketek 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
Tickets:  Adults $24.50 Conc. $29.90 Groups 10+ $29.50
Show Duration:  1 hour 30 min

Dates:  Tue 15 – Sat 19 May, 8.30pm
Venue:  San Francisco Bathhouse, 171 Cuba St
Tickets:  Adults 22.50 Conc. $17.50 Groups 10+ $17.50
Bookings:  Ticketek 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
Show Duration:  1 hour

Theatre , Solo , Comedy ,

1 hr

Cyclic comedy with an uneven pace

Review by Raewyn Whyte 29th Apr 2012

Two rows at the front are the only empty seats for Stephen K Amos’s opening night at Sky City Theatre in Comedy Festival 2012.  It’s a set up, of course, and he fills them by bringing volunteers from seats further back, including a group of four he spotted in the lobby – a man with one arm in a sling, a woman, and two teenagers. 

This turns out to be the Monro family, and they (of course) become grist to his mill. He is charming, almost courtly with them most of the time, eliciting their names, ages, occupations and aspirations, and returning to them throughout the show, checking in with the two teenagers every now and then for a comment, and using their responses as a springboard to the next segment.

Amos’ show is all talk: no musical backing, no props other than a long awaited bottle of beer in place of the water provided, and a sodden white handkerchief with which he mops his sweating brow.  He’s been telling jokes to strangers for 17 years now, as a way to get attention, and his agenda is to make his audience laugh. 

The pace is fast, and the structure cyclic, with topics veering off into new directions as they come around again. He gestures extravagantly with his right hand, while the left holds the microphone; given his overall sweatiness, he must have to keep a deathlike grip on the mic to stop it slipping out of his hand.

His personal experiences are at the centre of things: growing up in Britain with Nigerian parents as one of seven children and being a twin to boot; school days; having size 12 feet in early adolescence; the Boy Scout experience; the confusion of identity which comes with dual heritage; the dilemma of who he should give his allegiance to when it comes to the Olympics.

Later in life: being an uncle with a highly disrespectful young nephew; performing for the Queen; going on holiday to Thailand; visiting Nigeria; regular appearances at festivals in Edinburgh and Adelaide; and how easy it is for what he says to be taken the wrong way.

The opening night audience is generally relaxed, and there’s plenty of laughter in the first half of the show. As things progress, however, the audience also proves a tad tricky, refusing to find some of his stories at all funny – ironically enough, given his personal identity, we are particularly uninterested in anything which makes reference to racism, Islam or gay caricatures. 

We also respond dismally to aspersions about Chinese workmanship, and when Amos suddenly declares, “I’m laughing more than you are,” what is no doubt intended to be an encouraging aside snaps me right out of it. After that, I become hyper-aware of just how hard he is working to keep the show moving along, and my own laughter mechanism falters.  


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Deb Smith April 30th, 2012

I have a suspicion you were the woman sitting in front of us, scribbling notes throughout Amos' entire performance. Not only was this incredibly distracting, but it was clear you weren't there to enjoy yourself. With every gag, you were straight to your notepad, so forgive me if I disagree with almost all of your opinions in this review. It's hard to believe someone who wasn't paying attention! Personally, I thought Amos was excellent - a clear professional who handled himself brilliantly when faced with impromptu audience response and interaction. His material was controversial at times, yes, but he was skillful in keeping the audience on side throughout the entire performance. 

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A world-beating performance

Review by Thomas LaHood 16th May 2007

Stephen K Amos comes to Wellington for the first time on a carpet of glowing praise from the international media and, watching him on stage, it’s obvious why.  This is a very talented man doing what he is best at, the best that he can.  It is absolute professionalism and it would be churlish to try and find fault with a show that is so generous to its audience.

The comedy itself is extremely funny, often simple, always clear.  The laughter flowed freely and consistently from start to finish.  Faces throughout the crowd beamed with delight.  If you want to laugh, go and see this show, I couldn’t give a more straightforward recommendation.  But what really impresses is the skill with which Amos performs.

From his first second on stage, Amos works with (and for) his crowd, talking to us naturally, conversationally.  He makes it seem so genuine that it isn’t easy to decipher what in the set is standard material and what is ad-libbed.  He takes two people from the front row – one young and one old – and effortlessly creates easily twenty minutes of quality material based on just these two throughout the set, returning again and again to the jokes and themes he has constructed around them.

He is clearly suited to touring, as his skill with addressing local issues and attitudes shows.  He is one hundred percent on side with the audience discussing his recent experiences in Adelaide and Auckland, and somehow finds nice things to say about Wellington that don’t seem obvious or trite – like that it looks like a little San Fransisco, or that our accent is "like South African, but not evil." 

He makes lucid observations about the venue, exclaiming as two men exit the toilets together "it’s the San Fransisco Bathhouse, anything could happen!"  He even manages to tease out a running gag about studying Fine Arts, a vein of comic potential that seems so uniquely Wellingtonian you might more reasonably expect it to surface in a local performer’s set.

Amos seems alert, available and engaged at all times.  He gets so much material out of his interaction with the crowd that his set pieces seem almost unnecessary.  His style is pure stand-up, very traditional, but his timing and showmanship elevate it to artistry. 

He is able to mock and cajole his audience without it ever seeming mean, quite the contrary, the audience love him and he receives an ovation when he announces that he thinks he ‘made the right choice’ in following stand-up as a career.  Well, I wouldn’t begrudge him that after such a world-beating performance.


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Review by Imogen Neale 12th May 2007

Mike King first built his reputation by telling scandalous jokes involving Mâori. Thing was, as Mike King is Mâori and as the jokes were therefore self-depreciating, our society seemed to think it was okay to let him get away with it just this once.

At first it worked. People laughed out of shock, perhaps a little out of respect and probably a lot out of confusion. He was telling jokes we all thought we weren’t supposed to think let alone broadcast in public places. Of course it all became very trite very quickly and that’s why he turned to pork. Bit more of a known quantity.

English comedian Stephen K Amos works with a similar tactic. Although rather than playing with Once Were Warriors-type themes as King used to do, Amos focuses on the hilarity of his everyday life. Oh that and he picks at (on?) Australians (and people from Essex in the UK) as if they’re big fresh mosquito bites he just can’t leave alone.

Ben Hurley – Kiwi boy come home – did a good job of warming up the crowd although my partner and I were divided on our overall grade – you know, if we were going to be so crude as to grade him. To me his jokes were suited to foreign audiences – which is understandable as he does traverse the world peddling his wit. But, because I found the Kiwiana-cuteness, aren’t we weird but nice, a bit too much I started to get my cringe-on. My partner, however, thought he was brilliant – fresh, aloof in a nice relaxed, could stand there for hours, kind of way. Oh and ‘very engaging’. So either a) I can’t handle people mocking Kiwi-culture very well, or b) my partner thinks his culture is worthy of being mocked. I guess there is always c) I got feed up with people doing this when I lived overseas and so struggle to see the ‘oh, I’ve never heard that one before’ side. Either or, Ben certainly did get our sides nicely limber in preparation for Mr Amos.

I think Stephen’s entrance tactics – make it marked, proud and very direct – is probably a clever performance tactic. For, rather than ambling on, loosely draping an arm over the mic stand, crossing one foot over the other and beginning with a relaxed ‘So…’ he strode on and started talking. Yes, he does have the advantage of having an accent – well several accents as you discover during the performance – and a very striking appearance (love the very dapper suit!). But he grabs the audience as if to say – “you are mine, I’m not yours, and thus you will come with me on this uproarious journey I have devised and laugh. A lot.’

As he openly notes, many of his jokes come from past experiences which makes them less jokes and more true events that happen to be very funny – especially when all thrown together. The collage includes travels through very ocker ocker ‘oi ‘oi outback Australia, lock-stock-two-smoking barrels styled Essex, Scotland (where there was one other black guy in the village – he was Spanish) and South Africa. He pops a few shots at South Africa that are like poison dressed and delivered as sweet lollies – indeed the South Africans in the crowd who admitted their nationality would have gone home wondering how long their countries shocking racism cloud will hang over them.

I did wonder whether his ‘Oz is awful’ themes were especially for our benefit so I had a look on YouTube and what do you know, he was bold enough to tell these jokes in Australia. I don’t actually recommend you check them out before you go to his show – it’ll ruin it for you – you may as well stay at home with a glass of wine in a plastic cup and reduce your carbon footprint by not driving. Of course you’ll miss out on the queue in the woman’s toilets but I’m sure you could recreate that for yourself if you really had to.

Oh and if I was going to be crude and grade him? Superb.

Originally published in The Lumière Reader.



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Find the funnies

Review by Nik Smythe 11th May 2007

Back by popular demand, Comedy Festival favourite of ’05 and ’06 Stephen K Amos plays three shows in Auckland, opening at the TelstraClear Events Centre’s Genesis Theatre, if you know where that is, which I do now.*

Ben Hurley, expat Kiwi back home to support his London chum on tour in the antipodes, is still as Kiwi as anything as he wryly observes the irony embedded inside so many platinum comedic topics: sport, travel, racism, law …  Hurley hails from comedy’s popular scruffy lout brigade.  At the very start I was worried he was just obnoxiously unfunny, but he swiftly proves his adeptness with genuinely clever material, his badly dressed snot nosed bogan terrorist appearance belying his astute wit. 

After a break that clearly caught the venue staff by surprise, taking at least five minutes to open the bar – eternity to a thirsty interval crowd – Stephen K Amos takes the stage, instantly charming us with pleasant chatter peppered with manic exclamations.  

Amos is a consummate entertainer.  Very British, he gracefully inspires mirth, sharing his life story from a heavily humour-endowed perspective.  Throughout his performance – and, I imagine his life – Amos repeatedly advises us to ‘find the funnies, folks.’  It’s not surprising his life story includes having drama training; the precision of his gesticulations and his overall poise hint at it, plus he has a lovely warm, resonant voice, though some might regard as just a ‘black thing’. 

Perhaps that generalisation can also serve to explain Amos’ dress sense – he has some!  He’s the first comedian I have seen so far this festival who has any idea how to dress like a showman.  So many comedians appear to be too busy making amusing remarks to have time to groom themselves.

Both chaps impose on their audience and riff on the stereotypes connected to their answers to their personal questions: ‘works in marketing, goes to a gym, single… see the connection?’ This shtick is a classic standup cliché, especially when hecklers intervene willingly, but it would probably seem oddly pretentious to avoid using it. 

Amos is particularly rough on a gung-ho lad who shouted something most of us couldn’t decipher, pointing out the silence when he (the heckler) talks in contrast to the laughter when Amos replies.  It’s a dirty trick really since Amos has the advantage of  a mic, but we laugh heartily at the sucker’s expense.  Such an outrageous roasting leads me to ponder how many peoples lives have been seriously affected by the blows of a seasoned expert at  ego-crushing insults.  People who can’t laugh at themselves shouldn’t attend, and if they do, they should keep their mouths shut.

* This first of three nights with Amos was the only event in the festival at the TelstraClear Event Centre, 777 Great South Road.  A funny thing happened on our way to it – we were caught by that tricky old fact that there appear to be two Great South Roads, joined end to end, distinguishable by the fact that heading south on the northern Great South Road the odd numbers are on the right, whereas down at the more southern Great South Road, the one the Event Centre is on, has the odd numbers on the left.  Anyone who follows sport is now laughing at what a moron I am for not just knowing where the TelstraClear Event Centre was in the first place.  For our part we’re just glad we found the funnies in the end. 


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