Andi Osho: interview
For C4's 'Stand Up for the Week' Andi Osho has to generate a top stand-up set on a weekly basis. How does she do it? asks Time Out
'Oh, her! She is bare funny!' shouts the trendy twentysomething next to me as elegant stand-up Andi Osho takes to the stage at Camden's Koko. He's just had an argument with his mate about what 'that weird one with the shirts from “Mock the Week”' is called (it was Milton Jones) and now his memory has been refreshed, via a live visual reminder, of who Osho is: 'She's the one with the dresses. I remember now.'
Each Wednesday for the past ten weeks this theatre-turned-nightclub has hosted recordings of
Channel 4's weekly topical comedy show 'Stand Up for the Week'. I'm here to watch the filming of this series's final episode and interview the sole female member of the show's five-strong team.
Wearing a long, glamorous, velvet dress, Osho has incredible command over the audience. She's playful when things don't quite go as planned, joking at the embarrassment of having to repeat jokes for the cameras, but delivers a mightily strong set based on the week's internet findings.
As host Kevin Bridges brings the recording to a close, I sit down with the Newham-born comic for a quick chat before she heads off to the wrap party.
You've just finished ten weeks of 'Stand Up for the Week' recordings. Exhausted?
'Very! But I think we've really nailed it this series. The producers took a massive punt on me for this show, actually. Before “Stand Up for the Week” I hadn't done topical comedy, I'd never been a regular part of any telly programme, and I hadn't worked with writers before. So there was a lot of learning to be done.'
It's a topical show. How have you found generating new material each week? What's been your weekly routine?
'Well, my remit for the show has been “the internet”. Last year, I interpreted that as “weird stories from the internet”. But that was such a narrow brief. So this year I made it a bit easier on myself and decided to make “the internet” the story: anything weird on Facebook or an argument on Twitter, an odd website or a strange app… anything. Then the process is: we find stories, I knock some jokes together with a writer and then we go into the main writing room on the Monday. We then try some jokes, write them down and then do try-out shows in comedy clubs. We do these on the Monday and Tuesday nights and then record the show on the Wednesday.'
It's pretty intense then.
'Yeah! Does intense mean scary?'
Stand-up's very personal for many comics. Has it been odd working with writers and saying words you haven't written on your own?
'It has, but it really is a collaboration of our work. Someone might suggest a joke, somebody else tweaks the punchline or adds a topper or changes the set-up. It's a real team effort. Also, I see it as different from my own stand-up because of its style. For the series, every joke has to be punchy and clear - no subtlety. Whereas I can build up a story and more of a rapport with the audience in my own live stand-up.'
Compared to a lot of comics at your level you haven't been doing stand-up for very long - just four years. What were you doing before comedy?
'I was acting… So basically I was a receptionist. And before that I was in post-production. Normally people go in the other direction: “I'm packing in this acting bullshit and going to get a proper job.” But I went, “I'm going to leave my proper job, stable income and happy life and do this acting thing.” When I was working nine-to-five I took my regular income for granted. I didn't have any assets, I was always spending my money on rubbish like taxis and eating out and going clubbing. So when I went into acting I was broke and I realised I didn't need any of that stuff. I lived hand to mouth for four or five years, but I was waiting around for auditions a lot and I just wanted to be on stage doing something, and stand-up was something I always wanted to do.'
And how did that first stand-up gig go?
'It was good, actually! I didn't have a nightmare first gig. My second gig, however, was in front of four people. More than half of those were the other comics on the bill. After a while of those sorts of gigs I remember thinking: I don't know how much more of this I can take. There was no audience and at that level there was a lot of bad comedy too. I remember thinking: Oh my God, I can't sit through another joke about the different types of poo!'
Do you feel you're still developing as a comic? Are you still discovering your comedy voice?
'Absolutely. I've developed a lot in those four years. But in terms of material, persona, angles, technique, it's all in development all the time. I never want to consider myself the finished article. It just happens to be that my development is happening in front of more people than a lot of stand-ups. I'm still learning!'