STEPHEN K Amos was on a train on his way to show number three of a whopping 75 of his current tour, when I rang for our interview.
“Yeah......it’s a big one,” says Stephen, he couldn’t be more relaxed about it if he was lying down.
“But I’m looking forward to it. We started putting in dates and they just kept coming. We don’t stop until the end of February. Which is a whole lifetime away.”
Not bad for a guy from the west end of London who a few years back was travelling the world with little direction and no clue what he wanted from life.
He recalled: “I did my first gig in 1994. I was doing a law degree at the time when I met a woman in America called Delphine Manly. She said: ‘You’re really funny. Have you ever thought about doing stand-up?’ And I thought what a ridiculous suggestion. But she was serious, she was going to set up a comedy club in London and wanted me to work there.”
And sure enough, a few months later, having never even stepped foot in a comedy club Stephen made his stand up debut.
“When I started I didn’t have a clue, not a clue” admitted the 42-year-old comic. “I used to walk on with an A5 piece of paper with all my jokes written on it and simply read them off. Strangely nobody said a word.
“I thought of myself as funny in a party situation but transferring that onto a stage is completely different, and I was so nervous. But now it just comes naturally.”
Stephen’s style is to bare himself in a audaciously amusing set which has subsequently raised him to his current status, securing him appearances on TV shows Have I Got News For You?, Live At The Apollo, and Last Comic Standing, as well as a regular slot at the Edinburgh Fringe.
And next week Stephen’s biggest ever live tour comes to Blackburn to kick start the town’s ‘You Must Be Joking’ comedy festival, which sees 19 shows held over the next three weeks at King George’s Hall and Darwen Library Theatre.
Stephen, who is a good friend of Blackburn-born comedian Lee Mack, says he’s looking forward to warming the crowds up for the annual laughter marathon.
“It’s called The Feel Good Factor and it’s exactly that, it’s a show that reminds you of the things that make you feel good,” he said.
“From your childhood to the present day. I talk about stuff that’s happened to me and hopefully reserate memories of the audience and we can just laugh about them together,” he said.
“Just like when nothing mattered when you were kids, when the most exciting thing in your day was seeing what kind of toy was lurking at the bottom of a cereal box, and that was all that was in your day. And even if you got a bicycle reflector and you didn’t have a bicycle, you still thought it was the best thing ever,” he laughs.
“I try and make people realise how they shouldn’t let go of those days gone by, but deal with them with a sense of nostalgia and make sure you still do one thing in your day that makes you laugh and makes you really feel good.
“If you read the paper all the gloom and doom, you’d think we were all gonna die tomorrow, but there’s still a lot to celebrate.”
What he wants from his set, says Stephen, is to make a room full of friends for the night. The group of people sat in front of him, should feel like he is there with a show that was made just for them.
“I love to chat to the audience I want to include them as much as possible, I’m there for them. I like stuff happening in the room that you can react to,” he said. But be warned, Stephen doesn’t like hecklers. “Come and talk but don’t dare heckle, you may find that you are in trouble. I’m a very nice guy I’ll be nice to them so long as they’re nice to me.”
As if he wasn’t busy enough Stephen has his first DVD out next month, and he’s in talks with the BBC to host his own TV show.
“Everything on telly at the moment is about making you feel good so I’m jumping on the band waggon.There’s X Factor, Strictly. It’s something you can all watch and enjoy together,” he said.
“I’ll stick to what I do, stand up, a few sketches and maybe some guests, some of my pals in comedy.
“I don’t know what the show might be exactly, or when yet, but it will all be connected in some way to making people feel good. You have to laugh at least once a day it’s good for you.”
Stephen K Amos — King George’s Hall concert hall, Tuesday November 3.