These days, any stand-up show that drops the word “snowflakes” in its press release had better be doing a bloody good job of nuance. Hearteningly, it’s in the hands of Stephen K Amos, who promises us his new outing Bouquets and Brickbatswill “try to help us forget what a mess the world finds itself in right now”.
In the middle ground between “praise and criticism, love and hate” is where you’ll find Amos in this show. Strong opinions on every subject seem to abound at the moment, and he wants to know why. “Such extremes”, he puts to us, seem to have everyone being “an expert, a critic, a judge, or a victim”. Opening up that debate is important to Amos – he’s so keen to move the conversation past this dynamic, he even brings into question whether “people really understand what they feel so strongly about.” Understanding is his quest here – exemplified in his wondering whether “knowledge promotes more neutral feelings”.
Not content with simply pointing out what’s wrong with the world, Amos is gearing up to calm the entire “more divided than ever” country down a little bit and help them smell the roses. Deft strategy to mitigate polarised reviews? Slick, subtle plan for healing a divided nation? Laughter will tell, we suppose!
It’s clear that Amos doesn’t intend this to be a confrontation or call-out, though – he makes it clear he wants Bouquets and Brickbatsto be a positive experience, for the audience to be “immersed” in a show he describes as “warming”. Keen to offer a welcoming space in an increasingly unwelcoming world – Brexit comes up in due course, naturally – Amos makes a point of poking fun at those who are “either mortally offended or so much a fan that they fail to see the faults”, rather than anyone inhabiting the confused and unclear spaces in between.
Ever-ready to send up the foibles of a nation, Amos’ ambitions for his subject matter – tackling politics withoutreallymaking it all about politics – are clearly very high. Standing out though, is that one word – “snowflakes”, as Amos defines it, are people “with an unwarranted sense of entitlement, unable to process opposing opinions”. Has he hit on the true problem we’ve been facing this whole time? Is the rise of the snowflake to blame for the all-pervading misanthropy we find ourselves in?
Tragically, GC can’t answer that for you right now, because Amos doesn’t roll into Just the Tonic at Hansom Hall until November. Time alone will tell whether Amos achieves the universal balance Bouquets and Brickbatsseems to seek. But what we can promise is an act at the top of his game, bringing you a show he believes in in a time when belief in things is a risky game. Hansom Hall, get ready to forget your woes and embrace the warm space between the extremes.
Stephen K Amos is at Just the Tonic at Hansom Hall on Sunday 11th November.