Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
August, 2006

It is difficult to specify precisely what makes Amos' 2006 show so nearly perfect. Most comics will delve into their childhood and family at some point, and offer a glimpse of what has brought them along the road to who and where they are now. Amos simply does it systematically, offering a comic autobiography from his childhood in London as the eldest of several children born to a Nigerian couple, through his time at university when he desperately tried to fit in socially, sexual awakening in New York (it took him until then to realise he was gay? Come on! At college he had been claiming 1980s soul wimps 5-Star were his cousins!), and eventually forsaking his legal training to become a full-time funny man. It's not a particularly unusual or surreal tale; he simply invests it with a warm, embracing humour, working the audience with just the right combination of friendliness and teasing so that we bond with him utterly. As an added twist, he provides his own warm-up act, coming on in African robes with a simultaneous onstage translator who, for instance, has to render a few bars of a shosholoza song from Amos into a Proclaimers number. Before the award shortlists were announced last week, there had been strong word about one or two familiar names who this year had hit perfect comic pitch. I was very much surprised and disappointed that Amos was not recognised in this regard.

Written for the Financial Times.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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