Andi Osho: The Conversation

The comedian on falling off the smoking wagon, stalking John Humphrys, and upsetting ‘Strictly’ fans
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You're promoting Stoptober. When was the last time you had a cigarette?

About once every two years I fall, unceremoniously, off the wagon. The last time was about two months ago. I'd had a few – a lot of – drinks and I thought, what the hell. My punishment was a hangover created by Lucifer himself. That should put me off cigarettes until at least 2018. Giving up is as much a habit as smoking, so it's just about acquiring a new habit.

What's your biggest vice now?

The X Factor.

What did your parents want you to do when you were growing up?

I think my mum was holding out for me following in her footsteps and joining the medical profession, but that wasn't going to happen. I'd cry just at the sight of a needle – even if I was the one giving the injection.

Who do you test out new jokes on?

Myself and then an audience. It's the only way you can really know if something is going to work. Testing jokes on a friend is weird. It'd be awkward because if they didn't laugh, you'd be secretly thinking, "You're wrong".

There's a fine line between something being considered funny and offensive in comedy. How do you navigate that?

The 'fine line' is the person taking offence. Offence is subjective. I've been offended and I've definitely offended. It's an integral part of stand-up comedy.

So have you ever had to deal with a 'social media backlash'?

Every now and then. It can be for the most inane thing. I tweeted about Abbey Clancy's OTT celebration at the end of the last series of Strictly and I got a right lashing. It was really funny. She was leaping about all over the place, crying and everything. I guess because I hadn't watched any of the shows and just happened to catch that last moment ... I just saw this hysterical woman clutching a trophy in a glittery dress.

Do you ever get the equivalent of writer's block and wake up in the morning worrying you might no longer be funny?

No! Everyone's funny. You don't just suddenly stop. It's one of the joys of growing up in the UK with a British sensibility. Even in adversity, Brits have a way of unearthing humour. I don't sit down and write every day, though. I wait for the jokes to come and note them down, so I have a book with me all the time. Sometimes, nothing comes for a while, but that's usually because I'm focused on other things. So when the thoughts come I happily write them down, and when they don't, I watch The X Factor.

Your specialist subject on Celebrity Mastermind was John Humphrys. Can you tell us a lesser-known, but mind-blowing, fact about the great man?

It was like swotting for a stalker exam but once the test was over, I purged all the information. One thing I can tell you was that he was a bloody good sport for letting me choose him as my subject. He's lovely – and very small.

Which of your jokes has had the best audience reception?

It is unrepeatable in a respectable publication such as yours.

If you could invent a month, à la Movember and Stoptober, what would it be called?

How about, Starch? It's March, but everyone has to wear really well-ironed clothes

After a number of years spent working as a receptionist, Andi Osho, aged 41, took up stand-up comedy full-time in 2003. A familiar face on television, she is also a playwright and has received critical acclaim for her appearances on the stage. As part of this year’s Stoptober campaign, she is encouraging smokers to quit for 28 days from 1 October.