One of London’s best-loved comedians is returning to the stage in Greenwich. Stephen K Amos, a star of Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You, will headline the Magners Comedy Festival in Greenwich this month. He talked to us about stadium gigs, television and West Ham United.
Hello Stephen – what can your fans expect from your appearance at the Greenwich Comedy Festival?
This is my third Greenwich Comedy festival – it is the one comedians do just after getting back from Edinburgh. It will be a condensed version of the hour-long show I did up there and I can promise a lot of belly-laughs.
How was the Edinburgh festival?
I keep going back to Edinburgh because it is such good fun and I am willing to try lots of things in my stand-up there. It was really busy – the festival is huge these days, and when people get interested in it but can’t go they find out about other comedy festivals in their area like Greenwich and Bristol, so it benefits everywhere.
Does it surprise you that stand-up is so big these days?
When I started out, the only comedians who were selling out stadiums were Newman and Baddiel, and there was no stand-up on TV. I think somewhere along the line, someone working in television realised that if you film someone on stage with a microphone, people will watch it, just like they did in the 1970s – It’s cheaper to make than a sitcom too. Now you have shows like Live at the Apollo, which are huge. I started doing it just for a laugh and never envisaged making a career out of it.
What is different about playing the huge arena gigs to smaller, more intimate venues?
There is a way that you can play smaller venues – you can be a bit more experimental with your material with a smaller crowd. When you play a big stadium, there is the chance that the crowd would not know you as well.
How do you mean?
When you play a big venue, you have to make sure that it is material that will definitely make people laugh, even if they’re not big on going to shows. Sometimes people will think “so-on-so is playing at this arena, let’s go see it” despite them not knowing you that well, so you have to cater for them too.
As a Londoner, do you enjoy coming back to play shows around here?
Yes, it’s always nice to come back. I used to play Up The Creek (comedy club) in Greenwich for many years and I always got great support from their audiences.
And, as a West Ham fan, what do you make of the season so far?
If there’s anything that is going to give us a heart attack, it’s them! Most of the time you just have to grin and bear it.
Stephen K Amos, National Maritime Museum, Saturday, September 19, 3.45pm, £18.15, www.greenwichcomedyfestival.co.uk