Opening a gig for Stephen K Amos can’t be easy, says Cary Gee. But young Londoner, Kelsey de Almeida certainly gives it his best shot, and for the most part his aim is true.
Although not gay – Kelsey is in fact a born again Christian teetotal virgin – he is known as ‘the gay one in the family’ and draws on his difference to great comic effect. Perhaps not quite what tonight’s audience were expecting they nonetheless lap up his slightly fey take on dating without the benefit (or not) of alcohol, the tyranny of the personal trainer and Alpha Males, which is fitting because tonight’s main act, Stephen K Amos, is most definitely an Alpha Male of comedy.
Amos’ physical stature and voice alone demand attention, his comedy, a gushing lava flow of salted-caramel-flavoured observations, ensures it never wavers. And he possesses the best put downs I’ve ever heard from a man not dressed in a frock.
‘Sitting there I can piss on you,’ he tells a front row heckler. ‘And if you’re sitting in the back I can still piss on you’ he adds. ‘Some stereotypes I can live with!’
Among the jokes, which are dispatched with Exocet precision, Amos delivers long-considered observations on race, the environment, world peace, political correctness and those members of the audience who happen to be under 20, (I’d keep schtum if I were you), all with as much charisma as it’s possible to cram into one body. The lyricism with which he tackles his varied subject matter belies the extraordinary technical ability needed to make stand-up look this easy. A masterclass for any would be comic.
Whether talking about racism, (Brendan Cole – shame on you!) or homophobia, Amos retains his dignity and with it the ability to wade through the mire to higher ground, from which vantage he makes it possible for us to laugh at our own, frankly egregious behaviour, before making a silent promise to ourselves to treat others more kindly in future. It’s a rare trick to be able to pull off, but Amos succeeds again and again.
Even the Pope gets in on the act, though not necessarily to his credit.
Winding up Amos tells us: ‘I’ve been called coloured, black, and a nigger. Lately I prefer Stephen’.
Earlier the same day Philip Schofield, who lest we forget, began his professional career working inside a closet, chose to come out. Needless to say his courageous act left Amos cold. ‘I’m brave, but I’m not Philip Schofield’ he deadpans. Damn right. Amos is heroic, humane, utterly hilarious, and deserves to be on Everyman’s bucket list.
Stephen K Amos is at Leicester Square Theatre Feb 14/15.
See www.stephenkamos.com for tour dates.