Britain’s Got Talent finalist Kojo Anim brings his wit to Hornchurch
PUBLISHED: 15:00 06 February 2020
From intimate gigs to the golden buzzer, comedian Kojo Anim shares his stories of Britain’s Got Talent, family and the future ahead of his show at The Queen’s Theatre.
From intimate gigs to the golden buzzer, comedian Kojo Anim shares his stories of Britain's Got Talent, family and the future ahead of his show at The Queen's Theatre.
The 39-year-old father of one was Simon Cowell's golden buzzer act on this year's series of the ITV talent show.
The head judge was so blown away by Kojo's first audition routine he sent him straight into the live semi-finals, saying: "I don't really like comedians on this show, but I love you!"
That first BGT performance alone has had almost 27 million views on YouTube.
His exciting new show Kojo Anim Presents The Taxi Tour is taking place in 26 towns and cities across the country.
Getting set for the tour, Kojo said: "For me, Britain's Got Talent wasn't about winning £250,000, it was a chance to get in front of the judges, and to prove to myself that I can perform in front of anybody. My goal was to make it to the final, and now here I am - preparing my first solo tour, something I've been working towards for 20 years."
Here, he shares his funny observations and stories about life, parenthood and family.
Tell us a bit about your background - you grew up in foster care, how was that?
"I was raised in Hackney. My parents are from Ghana, and they got into a bit of trouble, so, from the age of five I was in foster care until about 16.
"I had an amazing experience of foster care. My foster family were from Guyana and Grenada, and I was with them the whole time. I was never moved around, which is brilliant, and a big part of what I want to share about having been a foster child - it's important for both foster carers and the children to hear that message; foster care is not always a temporary thing.
"Some children don't need to be in care forever, some do need long term. But consistency is what's important, if that's possible. And if they can get an injection of their culture, then it's also OK for them to be with foster parents of another race, if they're getting that background and input too. It helps ground you."
When did you realise you were funny?
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"I'd always been entertaining my family and friends. I was witty and quick with a response; in school, if I got in trouble, it was what I said not what I had done. I had an answer for everything.
"Comedy happened almost by accident. My first love was always football, but I had terrible discipline as a footballer. I was selected for a school of excellence with some of the best young players in England, on a course to study and play football. I was selected, but I had a terrible attitude about being on time and relied on being very talented. But it didn't work out.
"I learned a big lesson in hindsight, and it turned out to be a blessing. Missing that opportunity to change my life, the pain I felt when it ended, that kept me disciplined when I found comedy. I would never let an opportunity ever slip through my hands again. I have so much respect for every opportunity that comes my way now.
"I realised I was a natural with comedy, but that I was going to work hard, find solutions and make no excuses."
You'd already been working on the comedy circuit for 20 years before BGT, how was that?
"I was doing talent shows at university, and had the chance to go to comedy school, so borrowed £150 from my Aunty Sandra - I've more than paid her back now. After that I did a lot of university comedy gigs and built up a fan base.
"From that, I was able to set up Kojo's Comedy Fun House, which ran every Sunday for eight years, with 300 people queueing up outside each week, packing it to the rafters and coming along week after week. I came from a partying background, so would invite celebrities to the comedy shows, as well as hosting exciting new comedians and DJs, so it became somewhere people wanted to be.
When David Chapelle made a one off, spontaneous appearance at the Fun Club whilst just in town after a period of few shows, it really got people talking about was a huge hit on YouTube, Off the back of the Fun House, Kojo got TV and radio gigs: "MTV Base got in touch, wanting to film the Fresh Prince Of Hackney, a take on the Will Smith show - when he was kind of fostered by his relatives in the Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. That was my first national exposure, and led to radio bookings.
Simon Cowell famously hates comedians on BGT, but he have his golden buzzer. How did that feel?
"I was so nervous. The judges genuinely do not know what's coming next as you walk out; it's a conveyor belt of talent.
"Simon had given two comedians on before me absolute hell that day. My plan was that I wanted Amanda Holden and David Walliams' approval. Alesha Dixon had seen me at gigs, so I hoped she'd be on side. I'd actually written Simon Cowell off, as I knew I only needed three of them to back me.
"It was the very first day of filming, and - to add to the madness - Simon had never pressed his golden buzzer on day one. So when it happened, everyone was so shocked, day one and a comedian!
"The reaction was so gratifying. It told me 'I can do this'. I had proven myself and removed the doubt about myself. After that, I knew I was good enough."
Kojo Anim will be at Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch on February 9.
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