Prepare for a knight of brilliant comedy

Prepare for a knight of brilliant comedy

There is really very little that Sir Lenny Henry cannot do. As well as being one of Britain’s best-known and most celebrated comedians, he is also an acclaimed writer, radio DJ, TV presenter, co-founder of Comic Relief and an award-winning actor. In addition, Lenny has a PhD in Media Arts and in 2015 was awarded a knighthood for his services to charity and drama.

But now, I am delighted to report that Lenny is returning to his first love: Live performance. Since last month, the comical star has been touring the country with a brilliant new show, ‘An Evening with Lenny Henry – Who Am I, Again?’

Following the recent publication of his memoir, also entitled ‘Who Am I, Again?’, Lenny will dazzle audiences with stories from his life.

In the first half, he treats us to a series of anecdotes – triggered by writing his memoir – which are both hilarious and poignant.

Lenny recollects growing up in the Black Country, puberty, school, friendship, family secrets and unabashed racism. He remembers how – with his mother’s mantra of ‘H-integration’ ringing in his ears – he did his best to overcome those obstacles and make his way in the world.

Lenny will regale audiences with memories of his stellar career. After he burst into the public consciousness in 1975 as the splendidly gifted 16-year-old winner of the TV talent show New Faces, he enjoyed enormous success on such
TV shows as Tiswas, Three of a Kind and The Lenny Henry Show.

Despite his huge popularity, however, Lenny could not help himself wondering at every stage: Am I good enough? Is this what they want?

In the second half of the show, Lenny will be interviewed by friend, broadcaster and author Jon Canter, offering further insights into his life and career. There will be audience interaction throughout: Perhaps their questions will help Lenny work out ‘Who Am I, Again?’

The performer, now 61, who has also enjoyed critical acclaim in his roles in A Comedy of Errors and Othello in the theatre, says he can’t wait to be back on stage.

“Live performance is just the best. Being in front of an audience is the best thing you can do. Films and telly are extra, but live is you unfiltered. It’s just you stood there talking to an audience.”

The Broadchurch and Chef! star goes on to recall the greatest live show he ever witnessed: “What Morecambe and Wise did in front of a live audience was very different to what they did on telly. Their TV show was brilliant, but Eric was probably 20 times funnier on stage than he was on telly. I worked with him in Bournemouth in 1979, and it was one of the most extraordinary live experiences I have ever had. It was so funny and loose.

“I try to get to the same space when I perform live, create a real sense that this is unmediated and unmitigated. I attempt to communicate to the audience that ‘we’re gonna have a great time for the next 90 minutes, and then we’re all off home! HOORAY!’ And what is lovely is that they have grown with me over the years, they get me and what I’m trying to do – I really cherish that.”

He goes on to say that with this show audiences are not just going to get ‘a prepared, scripted presentation, but the bits in between, too’.

“My favourite comedians are the ones that have not only put in the hard work on their show, but they can swim between sections of their script and fool around.

“That’s what’s really exciting about live performance – you’re not watching a robot, you’re watching a human being. If you come to play, the audience really appreciate that.”

As he looks back on his early years in the business, Lenny underscores how valuable they have been in forming him as a comedian.

“If you write a book about your early years, there is a palpable sense that the past is another country and that you’re looking at yourself from 1,000 miles away.

“You write with these words indelibly printed on your brain: ‘Well… that was a very interesting time… these were interesting experiences… they probably made me who I am today’. This kind of reflection can make you realise why you are the way you are in the present day. I’ve noticed that I now stick up for myself and also want to be an integral part of the creative process, which all stems from the experience of my first ten years in the business.”

Lenny closes by emphasising that the show should not only be entertaining but also provide insight into his true identity.

“I hope people enjoy their evening out with me – but I also want them to feel at the end that they’ve learnt something about who I am and how I got there. This is a Len they’ve never
met before.

“The show is going to be loose, fun, insightful, and revelatory – did I say
‘fun’ yet?”

Yes, you did, Sir Lenny. Finally, what does he hope that audiences will take away from ‘An Evening with Lenny Henry – Who Am I, Again?’?

“A book!” And, no doubt, many, many laughs.

‘An Evening with Lenny Henry – Who Am I, Again?’ comes to the Assembly Hall in Tunbridge Wells this Friday, November 15.

To book tickets, visit


Lenny’s autobiography ‘Who Am I, Again?’ (left) is published by Faber, priced £20, and out now

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