Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Kwame Asante

  • There is a PhD to be written about the number of doctors who have also become successful comedians. From Jonathan Miller to Harry Hill, Adam Kay and Simon Brodkin, there is some kind of umbilical cord linking medicince to entertaining people onstage. Maybe it's the chance to hone your skills in hospital revues. Maybe there is some link between a bedside manner and stage presence. Maybe it's just that being a doctor is so demanding you have to evolve a sense of humour to get through it. Whatever the reason you can now add Kwame Asante to the list. Asante picked up a lastminute.com Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination for Best Newcomer last year and is on the way up. He has a wonderful engaging, relaxed manner onstage, immediately putting the audience at ease. And his material ranges from the personal, growing up in the UK, dating, etc, to the political commenting tartly on working in the NHS today. Despite what he says below about having to combine comedy with medicine just to pay off his student debts I suspect that he is soon going to have to choose between the two. 

Kwame Asante is at the Soho Theatre from January 25 - 27. Tickets here.

 

1. What is the last thing you do before you go onstage (apart from check your flies and/or check your knickers aren't sticking out of your skirt and check for spinach between your teeth)?

My pre-gig routine mainly consists of a lot of deep breathing, pacing back and forth and saying ‘Hello, my name is Kwame Asante’ over and over again so that I don’t get tongue-tied in front of the crowd. It really creates a green-room hostage-situation vibe that my fellow comics are always so grateful for.

 

2. What irritates you?

People who get verbally and physically aggressive towards frontline public service staff. Policemen, teachers, nurses. These people are the glue that hold our community together. The oil that keeps society moving. I can’t think of a single public service man or woman that gets paid appropriately for the work that they do- a huge amount of their actions come from a place of basic human compassion and so many people take this for granted. The very least they deserve is the right to feel safe at work.

 

3. What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?

I was at a winter scout camp and the campsite had a frozen lake, which someone had pushed a shopping trolley into the middle of. In my head, I thought ‘if the ice can support a shopping trolley, it can support me’ - teenage boy physics. As soon as I stepped onto the lake, the ice cracked and my leg went straight through. I twisted my ankle on the base of the lake. Thankfully it wasn’t that deep. Spent the rest of the day in the first aid centre and the rest of the trip on crutches. Whenever anyone asked me why I was limping, I’d just say hiking. Because I’d rather people thought I was dull then SUPER silly.

  

4. What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?

This one time at scout camp...

 

5. What has surprised you the most during your career in comedy? 

The fact that I have a career in comedy!

Interview continues here.

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