Tuesday, 25 September 2018

"I'll be letting it all hang out"

"MY SHOWS are like spending an evening with your friends... but funnier!"

"MY SHOWS are like spending an evening with your friends... but funnier!"

That's how Gina Yashere sums up her eagerly-anticipated new tour Laugh Riot, which kicks off at the Oxford Playhouse in March.

"It's me talking about what has been happening over the last year and my life," says Yashere, who has plenty of stories to tell in a way that only she can tell them.

Her material is based on her life experiences, covers everything from moving to New York, her fear of cats, and being coughed on in China, to finding herself in a brothel in Singapore.

She returns to the UK from across the pond, where she has lived for the last eight years.

"I'm always happy to come back to the UK. Performing here is like taking off your bra after a long day - I can just let it all out and tell it exactly how I want. In America I have to slow down and enunciate.

"Living there hasn't really changed what I do. In previous shows I have talked about my experiences in America and there is an element of that in all my shows. My audience doesn't want me to change and turn up with a fake American accent."�

The former lift engineer is now a multi-award winning headline act around the world and has performed in Japan, Dubai, Australia, America, Canada, South Africa and across Europe.

"My comedy travels very well,â?� she said. "I have always, since the beginning of my career, talked mainly about myself, but the first 10 minutes will be talking about wherever I am.

"If I'm in Singapore or Malaysia I talk about how I'm feeling in Singapore or Malaysia, so that always warms the audience to me. You are not getting exactly the same show.

"I'm happy everywhere. I have no favourites, although I have very good memories of Oxford Jongleurs. The audiences were great. Always fun. I always had a really great time there."�

After her comedy debut at the Edinburgh Festival in 1996, Yashere has gone on to appear on countless television programmes from the Lenny Henry Show to Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo.

Stateside, she has guested on shows including The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, Def Comedy Jam, Comics Unleashed and The Rosie O'Donnell Show.

Her movie credits include Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Mr In Between and she has starred on the West End stage in The Vagina Monologues.

The final date of the Laugh Riot tour will see Yashere take on her biggest solo show to date, in front of nearly 5,000 people at the O2 Academy in Brixton.

"That's going to be a big one,â?� she said.

"I'm excited and scared at the same time. It's a huge venue. I have seen some of my favourite bands there and I'm now performing there. It's going to be a big achievement."�

But Yashere is no stranger to large crowds.

Last summer, she played to 4,000 people at the British Summertime Festival in Hyde Park and a staggering 26,000 people at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games at the Olympic Park.

It was there that she accomplished her proudest achievement " a selfie with Prince Harry.

"I didn't find that scary at all. It was exciting. The way I see it, I'm having fun while I do what I do for a living, so I just think of it that way."�

• Yashere will appear at the Playhouse in Oxford on March 5. For more information, call 01865 305305 or visit www.oxfordplayhouse.com or www.ginayashere.com

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