Eddie Kadi, one of Britain’s leading comedian’s talks to Mary Bello about his attempt to sell out The O2 Arena in London with his one man show on September 4th, 2010. Can he do it? ED HE CAN!
Last time I saw Eddie Kadi it was difficult to get 5 seconds with him, everybody wanted to say hello, congratulate him or talk business. Setting up an interview was just as hard because Mr Kadi is a very busy man. On the airwaves at 1Xtra, comedy shows all over the UK, making movies, presenting- Eddies doing it all and doing it well. I caught up with him at Black Grape Music Venue. He enters the place a ball of energy laden with shopping bags from a well known luxury retailer. ‘I’ve got a premiere tomorrow…’ he says as we begin.
How are you feeling about September 4th?
I’m feeling good. I feel the same as I did with all my one man shows at the IndigO2 which is excitement. It’s definitely a bigger venue but I love performing and that’s what it comes down to.
Confident you’ll fill the arena?
Yeah otherwise I wouldn’t have gone for it! I believe there is a gap for people like myself to do this sort of thing, there are enough people who want to see it done and they’re the ones who will make this thing a success. It’s about showing people that you can reach the impossible. When I first approached the powers at the arena they were like ‘No way.’ But I managed to win that battle!
So it’s like a pinnacle?
Kinda, I mean people say you can’t get a British passport but we can get it [laughs]!
Would you say you’re a trailblazer among black British comedians as the first to take on The O2?
Not strictly. I would hope that I’m a role model to some kids coming up. I look up to people like Richard Blackwood, Kojo, and Lenny Henry. They’ve all handled firsts as black British comedians, I just want to be a part of what they are doing, and I’m trying to add a chapter to that book!
Tell us about your ‘Have You Got Your Ten’ campaign?
A lot of the shows I’ve done have played to audiences where there are groups of friends, families- the comedy is accessible to everybody. So I’m saying if you want to go, bring people you’re close to because it’s great to share laughter!
At my last Indigo show there was an audience of 2000 and I said to them if everyone brings 10 people to the arena show we’ll be sold out!
If you sell out the arena how will you celebrate?
Praise God people underestimate the power of God. I’ll have an after party at the Indigo, have a little dance [Eddie breaks into a Makosa dance- he’s good!]
What other goals have you got at the moment?
I’ve started doing shows at Jongleurs in Notting Hill, which is full of Hugh Grant types- I love performing to new audiences and hope to do my thing at this year’s Edinburgh comedy festival. I want to win an Oscar one day and get involved back home [Democratic Republic of Congo] helping youths. I know if I hadn’t come here my life could have been so different. I’m going to Congo at the beginning of April to find out what my life could’ve been if I’d never come to the UK.
Sounds like an interesting documentary!
Yeah watch this space! You might see it somewhere. I’m going with the charity World Child.
What do you love most about performing on stage?
When I pick on someone in the audience and pull up on their actions or how they’re dressed, get a little banter going. Or you detect someone’s mood- like it’s a recession at the moment and a guy in the audience could be looking at you thinking ‘Mans been sacked today you better make me laugh’!
You are known for your clean routines! Tell me a naughty Eddie story…
Well there was this one time when I was a kid I went shopping with my cousin, as we were leaving my cuz was like ‘Ed do you want to race?’ I said yeah cos I like a challenge. We start running, I turn around and there were two more geezers chasing us! My cuz was like ‘Ed don’t stop’ they caught up with us, obviously they were security guards and they were like ‘Empty your pockets’ my cousins pockets were full of Hubba Bubba. So I was an accomplice that day.
Ever had a moment where you thought ‘Yeah that’s how I’m rolling’?!
When I go to clubs people always wanna give me drinks on the house. I don’t drink alcohol so I’m always like ‘Erm, a 2 litre bottle of coke please’ So when you see me sipping on that full fat coke, not diet- that’s when you know I’m big pimping [laughs]!
Why did you first get into comedy?
It wasn’t really planned it was just a natural progression; the next step.
Who are your inspirations?
Because this wasn’t initially what I had in mind to do I didn’t really watch a lot of people. I just used to watch movies that had comedians in them (Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, etc.), just like everybody else. It was only when I got into the industry did I get advise and inspirations.
What else do you do besides comedy?
I’m a presenter as well. I also work with an entertainment group Black grape. I act too.
What other profession would you be doing if you weren’t a comedian?
I have a degree in Media Technology, so i’d probably be working behind the scenes, if anything.
What’s the best joke you’ve heard that you wish you had thought of?
Bernie Mac (God rest his soul) had a really good ‘I ain’t scared of you’ joke…
What was your first gig?
Oh yes! Kojo got me up on stage at the comedy club at corks, to perform a song we created called ‘pounded yam’ [laughs] it was crazy. Think that was in 2005.
How have you developed as a comedian?
I’ve matured a lot and my confidence has grown.
What makes you different from all the other comedians around at the moment?
My background. I’m originally from the Congo. The ONLY one from Congo actually. I therefore have experience that no one else has been through which gives me an edge.
What do you think of the whole UK comedy scene at the moment?
Its healthy. There’s nothing wrong with it. The whole scene has inspired many. There are more younger comedians in the scene. Kojo’s comedy club gave the younger generation a chance to get themselves out there. But, the more the better I think.
Which direction do you think do you think the UK comedy scene is heading?
Towards television. Everything’s always better on television [laughs] We have innovators in this industry and lots of people working behind the scenes it can only go forward.
What do you like about comedy?
I think comedy is like a form of escapism. I love the industry, I truly believe that “laughter is the best form of medicine” and its cheap entertainment. You can’t go wrong.
A lot of American comedians like went from stand-up, to movies and some even music. Would you consider doing the same?
Comedy gives you universal skills that allows you to naturally progress easily to any other industry [laughs] I’m an entertainer and always trying to take it to the next level. All comedians should look at themselves that way. It allows you to work within different industries and learn new things to bring back to the scene.
Which comedian do you think is doing well at the moment? Who should we look out for in the future?
[thinks] Kojo is like the original innovator of the new school wave of comedy. Slim is very good and has been around for a while, and Kevin J and Jason Lewis are doing well. I feel like everyone is pulling their weight and making a difference, so everyone.
What’s your advice to any other aspiring comedians out there?
Go for it! Work hard, be consistent, don’t create limits and be true to yourself.
To find out more about Eddie Kadi visit www.eddiekadi.com
Date: Saturday 4th September 2010
Venue: The O2 Arena
Ticket Price: Standard Ticket: £25
VIP Platinum: £50 (priority seating with free entry to the after party at the indigO2)
To purchase tickets click here
Words by Mary Bello