Title of Show: Emmanuel Sonubi - Emancipated Venue: Underbelly Bristo Square – Dairy Room Time: 6.10pm Dates: 3rd – 28th August (not 15th) Photograph: Steve Ullathorne Links: Profile and Social Media
Tell me about your 2022 Edinburgh Festival Fringe show.
This year I will be bringing my debut show ‘Emancipated’ to the Fridge. This show looks at my road to comedy, including many tales from the days I used to work as a bouncer, to my love of musical theatre. It’s a fun show that I had as much fun writing as I have performing it. It also looks at the lessons that I learnt from working as a bouncer in regard to dealing with conflict, and how those lessons help me in everyday life today. Essentially, it’s how I decided to break free from the social narrative that promotes ‘choosing sides’ and living a life of understanding.
You were born and raised in North London with FIVE older sisters. Sounds like a nightmare!
It had its moments, but apart from the embarrassing hand-me-downs, it was all good. Looking back at my childhood as an adult, I realise how fortunate I was. With all the things we went through growing up, all I remember is the laughter. The musicals we’d watch over and over again. Learning the dance routine to Sister Act 2 finale (which I can still do and will at any opportunity, along with many Backstreet Boys choreography). Winding each other up. How excited we’d get over having a takeaway. There was a lot of joy and a lot of love. They always looked after me. There were a lot of lies though too. They would constantly make stuff up about things I’d have done when I was young, like wanting to wear their dress to go outside and play. Even now, they still claim this. They made me do this… I’m pretty sure.
You worked as a bouncer for many years. How did you transition from doorman to comedian?
Comedy was a beautiful accident. I’ve always been a ‘joker’. I never grew up wanting to be a Stand-Up Comedian, but I grew up watching a lot of Stand-Up comedy and always loved it. My passion at the time was Musical Theatre (obviously, I mean just look at me) but with the news that I was about to be a father, I decided to close the chapter on entertainment and go into full-time employment. Office during the day, bouncer at the weekend. Then a friend of mine (Christina Cambie) was given a ‘Stand-Up Comedy course’ for her birthday and invited me to come and watch their final performance. I went and she was great. Talking to her after the show, long story short she convinced me to sign up to an open mic at Dirty Dicks in Liverpool Street, London on the ‘We are funny project’ open mic night. It was the scariest thing I have ever done, but from the first punchline, I was hooked. It felt like everything I’d ever done, now made sense. I quit being a bouncer about a year after as I progressed on the circuit and needed my weekends free.
It appears that as a comedian you have gotten very successful, very quickly. You’ve gone from an open spot to closing Live at the Apollo in an incredibly short space of time. What’s the secret?
For me, it was a mixture of things. Having a clear picture of what I wanted to do. I’ve watched Live at the Apollo for as long as I can remember, so that was always the goal. Having the right team and people around me that helped every step along the way is key. The right people can push you forward or hold you back, and I had the right people. An agent that believes in you is a big help too. (Cheers Brett… I’m not crying, you’re crying). Not being afraid to ask for what you want. I’ve seen many people in various situations who have been afraid to ask for something and have missed an opportunity. I think the biggest thing is hard work. I once read talent without hard work means nothing. This industry is very competitive and unless you’re willing to put the graft in then everything above won’t mean a thing.
Finally, ask and answer a question of your own.
Where do you want to be in 5 years?
Recently I’ve been lucky enough to support Jason Manford, Russell Kane and John Bishop on their tours. The feeling that I have when I’m in front of those crowds and the response I get back from this is what I dreamed of when starting down this road. So, in 5 years, where I want to be is on these same stages around the country, with the only difference being that it’s my tour we are on.
Tickets: Emmanuel Sonubi – Emancipated