Let ‘find the funnies’ be your mantra for this year’s NZ International Comedy Festival, and let me direct you towards the inventor of the phrase, Stephen K Amos. The British comedian has hurtled into Auckland for two nights only this week, picking apart the everyday to its hilarious core, before heading south to Christchurch, Tauranga, New Plymouth, and Wellington. Returning as part of an impressive international line-up, Amos proves his skill, energy and encompassing warmth are all that is needed to make for one heck of a show.
After a few kebabs and (non-alcoholic) ginger beers, we made our way into the SKYCITY complex, carefully avoiding the casino floor and nearly getting lost in a carpark - don’t ask how, just follow the signs better than we did. The SKYCITY Theatre itself is plush, large and for this show, nearly full. It’s a space that demands big personalities to fill and Amos rose to the challenge with experienced ease.
The show began and the stage fog thickened. Then coughing. Perhaps improvising, Amos entered and spieled about getting rid of the excessive smoke, then jabbed at the audience for not reacting better to a man on fire on stage. Any other comedian might be asking for an audience to turn hostile at this point, but a glint of his eye and a quick smile were all that was needed to have the audience melting and laughing from beginning to end.
Stephen is well known for his feel-good brand of comedy, but that’s not to say he doesn’t cover a vast range of topics. Everything from the inane way a door opens into a fire exit, to terrorism, to his relationship with his parents, was explored, picked apart and hyper-analysed in an immensely pleasurable way.
His greatest strengths were dealing with hecklers, and the important comedic skill of reading the audience and bending to the mob’s whims. It might be group think, but if no one else in the audience laughs at his obscure reference to Russian spies, I sure won’t. In his very meta style, Amos takes to hyper-analysing his own jokes when they don’t get those initial laughs, so even a failed joke turns successful.
Ultimately, seeing Stephen K Amos live is what you can expect and more. To be in that room, reacting with the audience and having a very real chance to interact with him make a ticket worthwhile. If I had any advice for you, budding comedy show attendee, wait for him to ask a question. Don’t attempt a heckle as you will be very swiftly and very sassily shut down by a very quick witted comedian.
Tickets available at Ticketek.
[A special thanks to Laurie Ruttersmith for his extra valuable analysis of the intricacies of a comedian who analyses.]
Stephen K Amos @ Sky City Theatre
Saturday 23rd April 2016