Acclaimed comic, actor and presenter Kojo was joined by an array of UK celebrities at Hackney Empire London on January 20th as he made his return to the comedy circuit with his hilarious new show Live ‘N’ Kicking. It was the energetic 31-year-old’s first solo outing in five years, since taking the US by storm, landing his own comedy series on MTV Base and becoming a presenter on Choice FM radio. FAB also got the chance to chat with this energetic comedian after his blowout show.
Live ‘N’ Kicking was attended by UK sports and entertainment stars among them ‘Superstar’ songstress Jamelia, Eastenders Ricky Norwood (Fat Boy), Top Boy’s Arnold Ocheng, England footballer Carlton Cole, MC’s Bashy and So Solid Crew Lisa Maffia.
With a reputation for delivering quick fire barbs and unforgettable punchlines, Kojo has written a show which focuses on a range of topics including the capital’s dating scene, being raised in foster care, the likelihood of a black prime minister and the London riots.
He says: “I’m one of many urban voices that need to be heard as the things politicians ignore are the things we’ve had to make jokes out of to stop us going crazy!”
Having previously sold out the Hackney Empire in 2006 and 2007, the event was also his very first live DVD recording, set to be released at the end of 2012.
Live N Kicking support acts were Island Records latest signing, singer songwriters Angel and Cleo Sol and up-and-coming UK comedy acts Mr Cee and Maureen Younger.
Very few people can boast of the achievements Kojo has made in the 11 years he’s dominated the black comedy scene. The charming and charismatic comic has performed worldwide, been a regular headline act at Jongleurs Comedy Clubs around the UK, and performed alongside heavyweights including Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Michael McIntyre and Eddie Griffin. He was also a recent hit in the US when he made it to the semi-finals on the NBC show Last Comic Standing In America and landed an opportunity to host the first ever Def Comedy Jam Tour after impressing music mogul Russell Simmons.
FAB got the chance to catch up with Kojo after his sold out show and ask about his future plans and comedy shows in Africa.
FAB: Your recent Hackney Empire show ‘Live and kicking’ tell us a bit about the name and how the show came together.
KOJO: With the title it was along the lines of Alive and Kicking but we went with Live and Kicking as it was initially me performing live again doing a show. Plus recording for the DVD. I put Live and kicking as I thought it was a nice title for where I feel I am mentally. I haven’t done a stand up like that for years so I’m trying to let people know that ‘Look I’m still here’ I’ve been travelling, I’ve been writing so it was a case of saying well here’s the new show, just two nights of amazing energy and the things I like to do. It’s a show that I’ve been planning for two years, so it was just perfect timing.
FAB: How would you describe your comedy?
KOJO: I think I’ve gone past the whole HaHaHa kind of funny. I’m trying to say something new now. When you see some young comedians first coming out, they would give you a lot of their opinions within the comedy but no one really wants to hear options from someone you don’t really know. So when your starting out it’s all about quick jokes where it’s all about being funny. Then as the audience grows with you, then they discover more of your personality and what angle you come from. Life starts to affect you more and things change so you start to grow with your material. With my comedy now as appose to where it was before, it shows a lot of me. I’m very opinionated; if I’ve got concerns and I want to talk about them then I’ll say them. From a political stance or an angry stance or even a happy one. I think life has changed my comedy; I’m saying what everyone really really wants to say and trying to put a comedy twist on it.
FAB: DJ, comedian, actor, writer. What other ventures would you like to pursue?
KOJO: Well this year it’s all about delivering products that I’ve been working on. I’ve been back from America for 2years and when I got back I took a year off comedy, as I wasn’t going to do any shows. And that whole year I was just writing. The reason I was in New York was because I developed writing, which I felt needed to be done. It’s all-good to make people laugh but where is that going? There are loads of funny people but not everyone is successful from it. When I was in America I had that bug where I was writing everyday. When I came back to London I didn’t do any shows for a year, I just continued writing, I wrote a cartoon series, a sketch show, plus two films. This year I just really wanted to deliver everything. We’ve had Live & Kicking, I’ve got a film that I wrote called The Weekend, then I’ve just finished filming for Noel Clark’s film which is out in May called the The Knot. I also created a cartoon called The Hoods with a young animator, which is about a black family who win the lottery and they move out of the ends. We’ve got all these things happening this year but it took 2 years to take myself away from stand up and do all this writing. I wanted to write real good content that is good enough for TV as that’s the next gape for me. There is so much stuff that’s not on television and instead of moaning and complaining about it I’m just trying to physically do something about it.
FAB: What are your comedy influences/ icons?
KOJO: Icons would be Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor, for me they are just comedy royalty. There’s no one else in that bracket for me. With Chris Rock I don’t see no one else on his level of comedy, we’ve had Dave Chappelle, Martin Lawrence but no one has really made a the same stance that Chris rock has made. So for me those are the three people that I took my inspiration from. I got to work and meet Chris Rock and see him perform live, to be inspired by somebody then get to work with them then get to see them perform is just insane.
FAB: Highlight of your career so far?
KOJO: I don’t think anything that I’m going to do will give me as much joy as when I started the comedy club (Kojo’s Comedy Club House) that for me changed the game and the general perception of comedy. It wasn’t about MC’ing any more, young people wanted to do comedy and express themselves through the humour, that really changed the game. Most of the comedy shows you see now in the UK all stemmed from Corks (Kojo’s Comedy Club House) We did it for 7years in a row and turned it into a TV show on MTV Base. I was really proud of it. At the time I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, I just had a idea and I ran with it but I was adamant to make sure that it was successful. And I’m glad we pulled out when we did, as I didn’t want it to get boring or stale or anything like that. I wanted people to be left on a high.
FAB: Are you planning any comedy shows in Africa?
KOJO: Yeah definitely, I want to take Live and Kicking out there, maybe in the summer. I’ll like to take the show there and tour with it; the DVD for Live and Kicking will be available on iTunes as well as in stores so people will be able to get the show everywhere. It will be a good journey to take that one show and go out to Ghana when everyone it out there and just really deliver it. If not in the summer then it will definitely be Christmas this year. Also because I’m not spending another Christmas in this cold country again [laughs], There’s just no way, damn the snow.
FAB: Where do you see yourself in 5years?
KOJO: You know what, I always see myself in development in terms of helping people. Everything that I do is just to kick down doors. Someone’s got to do it, I don’t do thing’s to reap my own benefits, I do it so that it will be easier for the next person. There’s still a massive gap between black comics and mainstream comics who are doing so well and haven’t done half the work that we have. So I use myself as an instrument to break down these doors. It’s not about me wearing a suit or anything like that, it’s just about me being from Hackney [London] and being funny that’s all that should matter. I’m no that black journey and hopefully in 5 years I’m doing even more movies. I have ambitions to direct and produce more films.
FAB Fire Questions
FAB Monday Morning tune
Meek Millz – I’m the Boss
FAB African dish
Pounded Yam and beef stew.
FAB thing about being African
Being cool! I just think we are the coolest people on the planet! Every one wants to be African! Well, apart from Africans lately [laughs]by