British-born, of Nigerian parentage, Andi Osho bases much of her act on the idiosyncrasies of the UK’s Nigerian community. LAWRENCE AMAKU reports.Andi Osho was born on January 27 1973 in Plaistow, London, England.
She is a comedian and actress.Having previously worked in television production, Osho turned to acting in 2003. By 2006, she decided to go into stand-up comedy. She spent a number of years working as a receptionist by day, while perfecting her standup comedy routine in the evenings.
In 2006, she starred as Alma in Dael Orlandersmith’s drama, Yellowman, at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre. Other notable theatre works include a critically acclaimed performance in the title role of Medea (Barons Court Theatre, 2005), Amanda in Cigarettes, Coffee and Paranoia (King’s Head Theatre, 2005) and Zimbabwean exile, Faith, in the devised piece Qabuka (Oval House Theatre, 2005).
Her television roles include Lin Colvin in Casualty, Adeola Brooker in Doctors, Dr Rogers in Footballers’ Wives: Extra Time and Angela Parker in Sea of Souls. She has also appeared in Waking the Dead, EastEnders and Night and Day and Russell Brand and Friends for Channel 4.
Osho is also a playwright and one of the founding members of the London writers’ group, Vowel Movement. She has contributed to News Review at London’s Canal Cafe Theatre, and in 2008, she wrote and performed in the stage play Up The Café De Paris at the Pulse Comedy Festival. In 2007, she wrote the comedy CSI: Nigeria, producted for BBC 3.
She has performed at various comedy clubs and festivals across Britain including: Jongleurs, The Comedy Store, The Reading Festival, The Pleasance Dome, The Chuckle Club, The Leicester Festival (Summer Sundae), The Comedy Café, The Shoreditch Comedy Festival, Comedy Camp and Hackney Empire.
Andi Osho won the 2007 Nivea Funny Women Award.A unique feature of her comedy is that she avoids the themes most often associated with female comics - weight, menstruation, boyfriends - instead leaning heavily on her Nigerian background for material. She admits that black audiences react differently to this than those that are predominately white.
“Black audiences don’t laugh and boo at the same time, they just boo if they get a bit offended,” said Osho.Although black members of the British audience are divided as to whether her Nigerian jokes had the potential to perpetuate racism, they all agree that Osho is one of the funniest comedians around. For her part, Osho says that she would hate “to be accused of just using Nigerian people for comic gain” but naturally riffs on the community that is most familiar to her.
The excerpt below culled from London is Funny is a recent interview in which she lets readers into her profession and sentiments.
Where do you live?
Newham. The third worst place to live in Britain. Take that, Newham is the most dangerous place to have the Olympics. Ha!
How long have you been gigging?
My first proper gig was on the Wibbly Wobbley boat in March 2007; so two and a bit years.
What do you do?
The key to my act is to focus on a negative outcome until I’m nearly sick and then go on stage. I was reassured by a seasoned pro that this may continue for years. Happy days. I worry a lot which I guess keeps me on my toes at least.
Who makes you laugh?
I always look forward to watching Slim (a Jamaican-born British comedian) perform. He is hilarious. I watch him like I’m a punster not a comic which is brilliant. Most of the time, when you watch other comics, you don’t laugh. You just go, “hmmph. Good reveal. Excellent use of rule of three. Nice tag.” I don’t even know what this stuff means when I say it!
At which London venues do you usually appear?
I’ll go anywhere there’s a crowd. I do a bit for 99 Club and Comedy Tree who always have a good, switched on audience.
What is your favourite London venue?
Not that I’m there very often but the Hackney Empire is a joy to play. It’s big enough to get the numbers in but small enough to still be intimate.
What are you famous for?
Delivering Honey’s second baby in Eastenders. Blink and you’ll miss me but I deliver the baby and then have to resuscitate the little blighter.
Which celebrity do you look like?
Apparently I look like a very famous Spanish newsreader.
When the person told me I was like, “Spanish?”...”yes”... “Spanish?”....”yes”...” as in, Spanish?”