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Gay Times November 10 - Issue 386

Stephen K Amos

Oscar Wilde once quipped: “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.” Well, he never got to meet Stephen K Amos, did he? Stephen has gone where many fear to tread and has voluntarily and deliberately turned into his own mother.

We spoke to Stephen about his new TV series, imaginatively titled The Stephen K Amos Show – a blend of stand up and sketches in a light entertainment format, with guest comedians à la Live At The Apollo. In one recurring sketch, he calls his ‘mother’, Buki, for a chat. She is yet to see it, but apparently the resemblance is uncanny. “[I] totally and utterly based her on my mum. The weirdest thing about that character is when my brothers and sisters came to see the recording. They were gobsmacked because I look like [her],” he explains.

He admits that although he enjoyed learning a new way of performing stand up, it was the sketches he preferred doing. “In terms of dressing up and playing characters, I don’t know any person who as a kid never went through a phase of playing pretend,” he says. “I was in my element. I didn’t want to stop. I particularly love the mum character because she was so believable and quite well-rounded.”

The sketches where he plays his mother largely play on Stephen’s Nigerian heritage, which is obviously important to him. He has just performed a one-off gig with eight other black comics at the Hackney Empire to celebrate Black History Month. Does he think that a black history month is still necessary and relevant in a world where a mixed-race man is leader of the free world?

“I absolutely do think it’s relevant, because when I was growing up at school, there was no such thing as black history. The only thing I can remember from history lessons at school was slavery. That’s all we ever got taught about in terms of being black,” he says. He is pleased that times have changed though, hailing it “amazing” that the JLS boys are “the biggest boyband in the country”, whereas he only had the marginally less attractive Sir Trevor McDonald to look up to when he was growing up.

It’s because of this that Stephen was pleased to be asked to perform at this year’s Gay Pride march in London. “I think it’s important that you have a black face involved in the whole Pride movement, because it’s so inclusive...we’re here for all of us.” He admits, though, that he didn’t foresee the consequences of being a publicly visible black gay man. “My job first and foremost is a comedian, to make people laugh. It didn’t even occur to me that a) being a black man doing stuff on telly...or that b) being a gay out man would automatically mean you’re a role model. I was incredibly naïve.”

Words: Helen Stuart

Read the full interview in the November issue of GT, out now and available on the ipad

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