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Jamelia cuts loose

COMEDIAN AND radio presenter Kojo recently sold out east London’s Hackney Empire for his aptly titled event The Kojo Show, entertaining a packed theatre with comedy sandwiched between celebrity interviews.

His interviewees included director Noel Clarke, boxer Dereck Chisora, MOBO founder Kanya King and EastEnders star Ricky Norwood.

But the best guest had to be the newest panellist on ITV1’s daytime show Loose Women (and about time too) Jamelia. She wowed the audience with effortless whit by talking about motherhood, her new TV role and having to rein in her "ghetto-ness" for the mid-morning viewer. There is something so classy and funny about her; maybe it's her honesty and lack of showbiz airs and graces that makes her so appealing.

She had the audience in stitches when asked why she'd recently turned down offers to appear on nearly every reality TV series under the sun.

“You know me, you know what I'm like,” she told Kojo in front of the packed crowd. “While I'm always myself, I can't risk the public spending 24 hours with me. You've seen the Big Brother house – you've seen how they don't wash the chicken! If I was there with them doing that… I just couldn’t!”

When Kojo jokingly asked her how long we'd have to wait until she accidentally uses an expletive on daytime television, she nearly fell of her chair.

“I have to try extra hard not to do that," she laughed, before addressing the more pertinent issue of her being the first black woman to become a full-time panelist on the show.

“It’s nice to be speaking for a large part of the audience,” she said. “You know we all watch the show but we haven't had a voice before, and now through me, we do. That is progress.”

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COMEDY CAPERS

Next, I caught up with the stars of the upcoming Comics Unchained show, which will take place at Hackney Empire on February 8.

Three of my favourite British comedians – Slim, Richard Blackwood and Eddie Kadi – will headline the show, which also features talents including Glenda Jaxon and Axel.

Hitting them with a quick-fire round of questions, the three of them really took the experience seriously – not!
To give you an example, I asked: Films themed around black oppression – like The Butler, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and 12 Years A Slave – have proved popular recently. if there was an oppression-themed movie about your life, who would play you and what would it be called?

Richard said: “A movie about my life would be called The Road Less Travelled and I would play the narrator plus the lead!”

Slim quipped: “it should have been Michael Jackson – [it would have been called] Beat It.”

Eddie said: “It would be called I Am So Fresh. It would be about being accepted regardless of my identity and I would choose John Boyega to play me, as he is young and energetic – and good looking of course!”

I also asked: In this year’s Celebrity Big Brother, who do you think was the biggest plonker, Dappy or Lee Ryan?
Richard said: “I know them both so no comment!”

Eddie said: “All I can say to this is I am a big Dappy fan. He is entertainment!! Is he a plonker? [Puts on Dappy voice] Na na naiii!”

Slim joked: “Dappy. At least Lee has some swag and doesn't let horses kick him in his face!”

Expect this type of comedy and much more at Comics Unchained!

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COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Finally, if you’re suffering from winter blues or you’ve got money worries, spare a thought for those without a home to call their own. Then imagine being young as well as homeless. You could be forgiven for giving up and having no hope.
Thankfully, one group of young people from One Foot Forward temporary accommodation in Oxford have decided that 2014 is going to be their year.

I’ve spent a few days mentoring and getting to know some of these young people with media interests. They’ve voiced their hopes, aspirations and resolutions for this year through song, rap, poetry and blog.

Working with local organisation Brand New Start, they are taking their homeless experience and turning it into positive expression through the Write Start project. And they are not afraid to tell it like it is in front of a live audience.

They’re gearing up to showcase their talents at Oxford’s largest indoor shopping mall so if you live in the Oxford area, keep an eye out for them. It is amazing how creativity can thrive in such a depressing environment.

One young resident has been in temporary accommodation for almost five years. Along with the others on the Write Start project, he is learning top writing tips, working in collaboration with his peers and going to shows and events that inspire creativity. They have the chance to get a qualification at the end of the project and that makes him one of the lucky ones.

Count your blessings if you have family, friends, and a roof over your head. Things could be much worse.

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