Kojo’s CV is a bit like that superb new high street store you discover while walking down the road – unpredictable, electrifying and full of some fascinating gears. The London-born Ghanaian entertainer first emerged as one of the biggest talents on the UK black comedy circuit after performing his first complete sell out show (The Truth Hurts) in 2005. Prior to this Kojo, was also a presenter on the hit kids TV show ‘The Mighty Truck Of Stuff’ (BBC TWO). Fast-forward five years he’s well on his way to becoming a household name with his own comedy show ‘Kojo’s Comedy Funhouse’ (MTV) along with his weekly Saturday morning Breakfast show on Choice FM. While the award-winning comic prepares to draw the curtains on his hit show ‘Good Times’ running from 16 – 18th December at London’s Soho Theatre. We caught up with him to discuss everything from hanging out with Missy Elliot to being compared to Chris Rock.
You’ve been described by Russell Simmons, as “the UK’s answer to Chris Rock” that must be a great feeling right?
It’s great to get that comparison although I don’t think that I’m that sort of a comic. I have been told over the years that my mannerisms are very similar to Chris Rock’s in terms of attitude and confidence. So I think it’s more that than the material.
So, what is it do you think you may have in common with Chris Rock?
The bravery to speak my mind as well as crossing over and doing mainstream shows as well as getting in to movies.
You’ve been described as one of the biggest talents to emerge from the black comedy circuit. What is it do you think that makes you stand out from other comics?
The thing that makes me stand out is I provide platforms for other people to get in to the game. I remember when I first started which was after the Real McCoy generation, where if you weren’t on that show you wouldn’t be getting booked for any big shows. I then started the ‘Comedy Fun House’ which bought through the likes of Eddie Kadi, Kevin J and Babatunde. I sort of look at myself as the provider for the new comedy generation, but right now I’m at the point where I’m just focusing on my own solo stuff.
When did you first know you were funny?
I was always the entertainer in my family. When my aunt and uncle would come around I would always mess about and give them jokes. Back in school I don’t think I was the funniest but I was more the wittiest as I always had an answer for everything.
So, were you a bit of a class clown?
No, I wasn’t the class clown. There was a guy called Jermaine in my class who was absolutely hilarious we always laughed at him more than me. But I was very clever and quick with my responses.
Part of your talent is taking those real-life moments that aren’t necessarily funny and making them humorous. How do you do that? Are you always on the lookout for humour?
I live life to the fullest, and I believe that no comedian should be able to say anything that they haven’t experienced. When you look at the great comic Richard Prior, I think that we’ve all shared his journey with him even in the good and bad. The thing that also allowed us to have a similarity with him was the fact that he was a human being who had flaws, and once your audience can share your flaws with you it makes them more attached to your progression. So that’s the kind of method that I’ve taken in terms of sharing my history and what I don’t like with my audience. I also want people to know when they come to see my shows they will be leaving with a piece of me or something from the show.
When you’re out somewhere and you think of something funny, do you stop and write it down or do you just store it in your head?
Common sense would tell you to write them don’t but sometimes I don’t. However, I do think that it is good practice to write it down in your phone or on a piece of paper.
Some of your funniest routines tend to be about black women, have you got anything against them?
[Laughs]…I haven’t got anything against black women its just women in general. Been a black person naturally I think it maybe directed at them but it’s meant to go out to all women. I was raised around nothing but women so I would like to believe I know a bit about women in terms of how they think. What I do find funny is when I do say stuff they do always laugh, and I think when you do get that from a woman you know you’re heading towards the truth which sometimes can offend.
How does it feel to see your transformation from a comedian telling jokes on kids shows (The Mighty Truck Of Stuff) to now telling jokes to a more mature audience?
It does feel quite weird, although I did take a year off the comedy scene and moved to New York where I learnt a lot after working with the likes of Russell Simmons and Chris Rock. Since, I’ve returned I’ve written a movie as well as having a cartoon in development. I am also back on the road touring with a whole new energy which is amazing. I do also feel a little bit more exposed to my audience because of Twitter and Facebook. It just feels as if people know me a bit too much, but I suppose as I’m growing and maturing that is a good thing.
You were once a warm up act for Missy Elliot, what was that experience like, did you really get your freak on?
[Laughs]… I definitely did get my freak on. It was at the same time me and Reggie Yates were doing CBBC so we hadn’t gone on to BBC 2 yet with the (Mighty Truck of Stuff). When I actually went out there for the first time to do the show I said to my self “wow”. The interesting thing is that Missy Elliot’s audience is actually mainstream which meant it was not just an urban audience. I actually destroyed the show in front of 5,000 people, and afterwards Missy Elliot came to the side of the stage and was like ‘Who the hell is this guy?’. I also remember walking off the stage and the audience shouting for me to come back. I was like, “you’ve got Missy Elliot coming next”, but it was a crazy experience especially meeting Missy and hanging out with her.
How are you planning to spend Christmas this year?
I make so many promises to my family about spending time with them especially though out the year. This year I actually stopped doing the Fun House after seven years, as I wanted to spend more time with my family. So I’ll be doing a lot of that as well as eating and remembering why I left the house.
What can people expect who’ve never seen you live?
I am going to be open as well as showcasing a lot of new material. It’s also going to be really personal as I want people to understand my journey and what I’ve learnt.
Finally, to round of the interview we would like to play a game with you called ‘Kojo’s Trends’, and its all to do with popular trends that we’ve noticed you’ve been commenting about on Twitter.
If my girl friend cheated on me – I would tell her the truth about me and her mum.
Females should never – Talk about other females being better than them.
Slap yourself if – you’re 40 years old complaining there’s no good men.
If Simon Cowell was my friend – I would have a music career.
We’re not together anymore – Because Beyonce has just left Jay-Z.
Interview by Noel Phillips
Kojo will be making his Soho debut at the Soho Theatre from 16 – 18th December. For more info check out www.officialkojo.com or www.sohotheatre.com