top of page

Review: Ikechukwu Ufomadu: Amusements (Soho Theatre)

Review by Harry Bower


⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

Watching Ikechukwu Ufomadu on stage is like stumbling across a peculiar niche on TikTok, or Instagram Reels, being intrigued, and then ending up in a rabbit hole of similar videos which keep your attention inexplicably locked on your screen. Thankfully, Amusements is less toxic than endlessly doomscrolling online and is – we’re assured – delivered fully within the bounds of the Geneva Convention. Phew. This is an hour-long smorgasbord of chaotic absurdity, clowning, mime, and one-liners. A sort of stand-up, sketch comedy hybrid delivered by the man himself in all his tux-dressed glory, using only an acclaimed SM58 microphone and a handful of props. It is utterly bonkers, and very funny.

 

When Ufomadu is talking – the audience listen. Partly that is, as he reminds us, because we have paid for a ticket to be there. Partly though it’s because of a remarkable stage presence and unflappable calm charm exuding from the stage. His schtick is part-confidence trickster, part-clown, and most of the comedy is subtly satirical, taking aim at American politicians – or politicians in general – and public speaking. Most of those underlying “messages” are subtle and quickly bulldozed by the performer’s overwhelmingly silly and delightfully zany quips or sideshows.



It feels superfluous listing some of the things Ufomadu does on stage, mainly because it’s not likely you will be able to work out how he makes it funny just by reading this review. Impressions of Kennedy and Sinatra, a jazz-scat alphabet song, simply reading the opening paragraph of Moby Dick; a Nat King Cole singalong. What is certain is that there will absolutely be one joke or bit in the show which breaks even the most sceptical of audience members into laughing out loud, and once you start, it’s difficult to stop.

 

One of the biggest challenges I found is that the absurdity of the humour playing out is somewhat overwhelming and can become tiring. Jokes don’t land with enough pace to engage throughout the lengthy setups; and sometimes are predictable one liners which lose their edge. A section packed with obvious dad-jokes has a few mega-hits amongst a sea of funny-but-not-hilarious lines – sprinkled with some observational stuff which is excellent. Impressions and voices are excellently performed but employed for slightly too long, even when accounting for the over-explainers and the whole longer-it’s-done-the-funnier-it-gets format. If you’ve ever seen Tim Minchin or Milton Jones; imagine those comedians in long form, and 100% more abstract, and you’d be close.



Ultimately, Amusements is a fab hour shared in the company of a unique and charismatic comedian, packed full of nonsensical escapist humour. To switch off for sixty minutes and be tickled and teased into enjoying yourself is a rare privilege in the modern world, but Ufomadu achieves it for his audience with aplomb. The finishing PowerPoint presentation of nonsense followed by a festive singalong is worth the entry price alone, not counting the excellent deadpan political humour and disarmingly funny impressions. Amusements won’t be for everyone; but those who enjoy it won’t just like it, they’ll love it.

 

Ikechukwu Ufomadu: Amusements plays at Soho Theatre until Saturday 02 March 2024. For more information and tickets visit https://sohotheatre.com/events/ikechukwu-ufomadu-amusements/


Photos by Zach DeZon

Comentarios


bottom of page