Andi Osho is an award-winning writer, performer and filmmaker who has created her own path in the entertainment industry. A familiar face in the stand-up comedy circuit and with numerous writing and acting credits, including her own sketch show on E4; we wanted to know, how did she get to where she is today?
A stand-up and TV comedian, actress, writer, producer and soon-to-be published author, it’s fair to say that Andi has paid her dues in the entertainment industry. Today, the British Nigerian is firmly established as a versatile entertainment personality, doing stand-up comedy on a number of prime-time UK shows including Mock The Week, Live At The Apollo, and a live solo show at the esteemed Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Andi’s acting credits include Line Of Duty (BBC), Death In Paradise (BBC), Curfew (Sky1) & Kiri (CH4). She has written and starred in her own E4 sketch show The Andi Osho Show and Sky Comedy short Twin Thing as well as produced and performed for numerous TV and Radio shows on FOX US, BBC TV and Radio. In short, Andi Osho is Black Girl Magic!
Melan Magazine contributor, Oliver Taylor joined an audience of aspiring actors, writers and comedians at a live Q & A with Andi and actress Katie Payne with The Red Brick Studios via Instagram last week where Andi answered questions about how she got into the entertainment industry and her journey so far.
Read on for some of the highlights:
How did you get into comedy?
Andi: It got to the point where I was working on a soap, and mixing with some of the actors, and every time I interacted with the actors, it was just like – that’s what I want to do. I had no clue where to start, how you got into it, and which were the good drama schools. It was through conversations with them that I thought I’m gonna give this a go. Naive arrogance is how I would describe it.
How old were you at this point?
Andi: I was 29 when I finished working on this soap, that’s when I did lots of part-time acting courses. I then put together the resume, the headshots, and all the rest of all the things that you’re supposed to have.
So, what did you do then?
Andi: I went to a part-time drama school, studying in the evenings, and doing my regular job in the day. Then it got to a crunch point, when the Dean said: ‘this isn’t a leisure course even though you are here part-time, this isn’t just for fun, you have to commit sort of things’ [laughter].
So, I left my job.
I didn’t do a full-time three-year course at drama school, but I thought if I treat this like an apprenticeship, then hopefully over time, I’ll amass some of the knowledge.
How did you get into the comedy thing?
Andi: I was acting from 2003 ‘till 2007 and I had a really nice start. I did get an agent, changed agents a couple of times, and started to get synchronised. Finally, I got my first bit of tele on EastEnders, as a nurse, and then as different nurses [laughter].
Work started slowing down, and it got to the point where I was auditioning so infrequently. I was quite nervous when I went into the room, and I remember doing a play reading at the roll call and getting serious stage fright, for a reading, not even the performance of the play! and I thought I’ve got to do something about this, but what can I do?
So, I started looking up actresses that I really liked, and it happened to be that every single one of them had done stand-up!
And that’s how I got into comedy. I fought it because I was scared like everybody else is when they first think of trying stand-up. Yet there was something in me pulling me to do stand-up.
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Did you just start doing the rounds on the comedy circuit?
Andi: Naive arrogance once again [laughter]. I just started; I did my research as I did with my acting.
I’d ring ’em up, ring ’em up again, ring ’em up again; and also do gigs, get good, be good in a gig, which makes people want to book you again.
Was it hard being a woman at the time doing that?
Andi: On the open mic circuit from my recollection, there’s an equal amount of men, women, it’s very diverse. As you start to get towards the bigger gigs, the 20 minutes, the TV stuff, that’s when you start to see a certain type of comedian that is considered to be a safer pair of hands.
What would you say was your dynamite in terms of comedy?
Andi: I would have loved to have been a storyteller. I was always so good at the long period when you’re setting up this story, giving little details and there’s not a lot of laughter. I always want it to have a short set up with loads of punch lines.
Have you got any advice for people procrastinating?
Andi: You either start or don’t start. It is as simple as that. That blank page syndrome is chronic.
The more detailed answer is: we get caught up in this idea that it’s gotta be great from the first draft.
What you need to do as a writer is cultivate this trust in yourself that you can make it better and better. The first draft’s only purpose is to exist, that’s literally all it’s for. So, if you just get it out [blurt], then you can go back and just go, oh, I don’t like this. Guaranteed, there’ll be something in there, some kernel to take to the next draft, and then from there to the next.
How do you find inspiration to write?
Andi: There’s so much stimulus out there, it’s almost overwhelming. If you look, you can see it all.
Script is all around you. Where people might get stuck is with self-criticism. If you see something, ‘oh, that’d be a great book,’ and then you go ‘ah, someone’s already done it…’. Really, you’ve killed before it even got a chance to live. I let ideas live, and they find their form.
Have you got any book recommendations?
Andi: Hidden tools of comedy; Writing Long-Running Television and Save the Cat.
“You either start or don’t start. It is as simple as that. That blank page syndrome is chronic.”
What’s a career highlight for you?
Andi: I think finishing the book was a pretty big deal because I had taken it on with naive arrogance. I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. How hard it is to write a book, I just legit didn’t know. I got a publishing deal, otherwise, I would have scrapped it. I wouldn’t have even started.
The day that my editor said, ‘that’s great, no more notes and we’ll get that through to the copywriters’. I was just like… ‘are you [stutters].. are you serious.’ Because I’d spent two and a half years [writing it], it felt like a millstone around my neck at times.
When I got that message back, I was like ‘okay, guys, let’s get the champagne, let’s go out for dinner, let’s celebrate this!’
When’s the book out?
Andi: It’s out February next year.
Andi’s book Asking for a Friend will be published by HQ February 2021 as a paperback original, eBook and audiobook.