Beloved British comedian Stephen K. Amos is bringing his new show, Welcome To MY World, to His Majesty’s Theatre on Thursday, April 30, Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2, as part of the Perth Comedy Festival. TRAVIS JOHNSON checks in.
Stephen K. Amos is certainly no stranger to the Antipodes, having racked up seemingly countless tours and TV appearances ’round these parts over the last decade or so. Indeed, we’ve just about adopted the London-born comic as one of our own. It’s a relationship he appreciates.
“Well, it’s just that there’s such a massive connection between the UK and Australia.” he says. “When I first started coming out here about 10 years ago the audiences warmed to me and so I thought, yeah, I’ll keep coming back. So the more you guys keep laughing, the more I’ll keep coming and saying what I’m saying and doing what I do.”
Amos describes his latest stand up show, perhaps a little unnecessarily, as “Basically, it’s a show about jokes, first and foremost. People are gonna come and have a laugh. And within that framework I’m talking about my world and slightly linking it to the world we live in, where there’s a lot of doom and gloom, never any positivity. It’s just a story about my journey, what brought me to where I am today, my influences.”
But comedy shows are rarely just “shows about jokes” these days. Comedy is a hotly contested piece of ground in the culture wars, with comedians, jokes and routines frequently held up to the scrutiny of social media for good or ill. The comedian’s role as social critic and agitator has never been more prevalent, and Amos is aware of it – but he’s also aware that he still needs to be funny.
“Well, there’s a fine line, isn’t there? Because you know that people want to come and see your shows, they want to go to the theatre to escape things. And they also want to have a laugh, have an insightful night out where they can be challenged by what they’re trying to escape. I think we can make people laugh, but we also can make them think. It’s not just one track, but it does have to be funny, or else you’re just preaching to the converted, which is pointless.
“I personally believe that any subject, every subject is open and rife,” he continues. “And it just depends on how the comedian presents it, and the content and the intent. However, as much as I appreciate and uphold freedom of speech, I also uphold freedom of expression. So if you don’t like what a comedian said, you’re within your rights to challenge it. How you do that I don’t know, but you make a reasonable platform and spark a dialogue or debate, and maybe we can find a common cause at the end.”
However, he believes that the tendency for the mob mentality to take over is making that common cause harder to find lately. “It’s so weird for people in this day and age to jump to a conclusion because they hear a buzzword that they don’t like. That’s what’s happened for the internet generation – someone will report on something that they were not there to see or witness and they will skew the interpretation of it and launch into some other diatribe that goes on forever, which is no reflection on what actually happened. We see it all areas and I talk about in the show, like when the TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear) is charged with something and before anybody knew what he was suspended for people were jumping on the bandwagon – ‘He’s the best! Keep him in the job!’ For all they knew he could have murdered someone, committed some horrendous crime, but people are always so quick to jump on the bandwagon. I’m all for having opinions, but have an informed opinion.”