Comedy Review: Ikechukwu Ufomadu: Amusements, Soho Theatre

Review: Ikechukwu Ufomadu: Amusements, Soho Theatre

I think it's fair to say that Ikechukwu Ufomadu's Amusements is not your typical comedy show. But then Ikechukwu Ufomadu is not your typical comedian. He comes on dressed in an elegant, immaculate tuxedo backed by a jazzy lounge soundtrack. Think Rat Pack crooner rather than Comedy Store. But over the next hour he proceeds to blow away the room – and the cobwebs in my head after a hard day - with an utterly unique, and very funny show that is part performance part, part absurdist theatre, totally hilarious.

Ufomadu is a US-based actor as well as a comedian and he utilises plenty of drama skills in Amusements. He speaks like an eloquent orator, but also breaks into nonsensical gobbledegook at times. There's an impression of John F Kennedy as well as an unexpected English accent, possibly Italian Job-era Michael Caine. There are gags about Moby Dick and Shakespeare. Pay attention at the back or you'll miss something great. This is the second time I've seen Amusements and it was way more entertaining than the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe – and it was pretty entertaining then.

It is certainly a literate show then and also a distinctive one. The jokes come from the way Ufomadu teases and tugs at language while maintaining a beatific smile. It reminded me of The Day Today and other shows where something sounds completely normal, has all the rhythms and cadences of something completely normal, but under scrutiny the curtain is pulled away and you realise what you have just heard is hilariously stupid. It helps that all of this is delivered with a straight face, as if he is delivering a public speech.

There is a confidence to the performance that can only come from someone who knows what he is doing and has total belief in it. Ufomadu has the best pauses this side of Pinter and breaks in and out of character with the kind of aplomb that keeps you on your toes. Amusements feels tightly scripted but also leaves space for spontaneous audience interaction – given an extra frisson on the night I was in when it transpired that the microphone cord was not quite long enough for him to reach the person he wanted to interact with.

If this sounds like Neil Hamburger-style anti-comedy, be warned, there are tummy-tickle jokes here that will make you ache with laughter. Ufomadu, who describes the show as "rigorously non-sensical" is very much a one-off. He's here until Saturday and you won't see anything else like this in 2024. Don't miss. In fact see it twice.

Until March 2, 7.30pm, tickets and info here.

Read an interview with Ikechukwu Ufomadu here.

Picture credit: Zach DeZon



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