My name is Ikechukwu Ufomadu - or, if you like: Ike. I used to wrestle a lot with calling myself a “comedian”, as my path to comedy was through the world of experimental theatre and performance. When I was starting out, I didn’t feel that I was pursuing comedy per se. It was more that I started getting ideas for performances that (1) just happened to be more humorous than not and (2) just happened to involve only one person on stage, who (3) just happened to be me.

A few years ago though, a friend explained her approach to categorising her own hybrid work that made an impression on me. She said she wasn’t so much trying to nail down the perfect identity for herself as an artist, but more trying to give useful coordinates to people who might be interested in finding her work.

In her case, calling herself a “musician” was like saying, “Hey, if you’re trying to find me, I’ll be standing on the northeast corner of Broadway and 8th Street.”
This is my very long-winded way of saying: I’m a comedian.

Here are a few little tales of formative moments that may shed light on how we got here.


I trained as an actor in college with every intention of becoming a Serious Actor.

Two years after graduating, I continued that training with a month-long visit to Bali for a theatre-dance intensive. It was coordinated and led by a teacher from school – this jolly, big-hearted Danish man who always seemed to be just as much a wizard as a theatre director.

From early in the morning to late in the evening, the days were filled with rigorous movement exercises that pushed me beyond the limits of what I thought I was capable of.

I’ve always felt that something in all that movement rewired my brain somehow because when I got back to New York, all I wanted to do was write these little, odd humorous solo plays

Ideas just kept spilling out of me. I’d always had a comic sensibility that came to life when hanging out with people, but it wasn’t until that trip that it occurred to me that I could legitimately explore that sensibility on stage.


The first open mic I did remains among the most disorienting and out-of-body experiences I’ve had in my time on Earth. I wasn’t on stage for any longer than two or three minutes, but it was long enough for me to feel like I was fully tripping on a hallucinogenic substance.

The “material” I’d “prepared” – a series of observations on what it’d be like if Christian Bale’s Batman tried to either hail a cab or board a New York City Bus – evaporated the instant I stepped on stage.

Instead, my mind slowly worked through a series of very, very basic realisations about what doing stand-up entails: “Wow… everyone in the room is looking… at me… and I… am looking at them… and also… there is no-one else on the stage right now… except for me… and also… I need to come up with something to say… because if I don’t say anything… no-one else will… because there is no-one else on the stage right now… except for me…” I mumbled a few half-sentences and ended by opening up the floor for any questions before slinking off stage.

I’m proud to report that the realisations I made that night are ones I've never forgotten.

Ike Ufomadu


Late one night in my early 20s, I found myself watching David Letterman’s old late-night show, Late Show with David Letterman. I didn’t grow up watching late-night talk shows and had never given them much thought, but on that night, I was captivated.

At that time, both my feet were firmly planted in the theatre world. Watching the show from that perspective, I found it so interesting that Letterman – a fellow stage performer – had to wear a full suit in order to be on stage. Moreover, he had to do the bulk of his work while sitting down at a well-appointed desk.

There were all the markers of a corporate office job, except his “office” included a full studio audience and cameras to beam his “workday” to viewers around the country.

The tension between the formality on display and the essential playfulness of the work was intriguing. It made me wonder: what kind of person wants to have fun and make jokes and goof around, but can only allow themselves to do so if wearing a suit at a desk? It’s a tension I still find intriguing, and it’s found its way into a lot of my work.


I’ve always enjoyed performing but had trouble giving myself permission to pursue it more vigorously as a career. I hadn’t grown up around anyone who had a career in the arts and something about the whole endeavour felt distant and unreal. Oddly enough, it was a part-time job working at a compost drop-off stand at a farmers’ market that changed my thinking.

The manager at the market was really passionate about food. So passionate, that it made me reflect on how unpassionate about food I was. Then I thought, if I’m really into performing, I should pursue it with the kind of energy this guy uses in pursuing working with food.


I was in the midst of a run of shows at New York City’s Public Theater. It had always been a dream of mine to perform there, and to be doing so with my own original work was both thrilling and nerve-wracking.

The nerves were mostly from vaguely knowing that the show would be reviewed in America’s paper of record, The New York Times. And lo! An hour before showtime one night, I stumbled across the review… which was lukewarm at best.

Not only was I disappointed, but the clock was ticking before I needed to get up on stage and do the show that the New York Times had just called “meh”.

Something about the pressure of needing to perform so soon pushed me to think, “The newspaper doesn’t decide whether my work has value. I decide that.” Holding onto that thought, I did the show and had a wonderful time. I remember this experience whenever I need to keep myself unswayed by unwelcome news, which comes often in this business of show.

'Amusements' by Ikechukwu Ufomadu will be performed at 5.40pm in Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Two) from 2nd – 27th August (excluding 16th). Get your tickets here