You might have recently spotted actor and comedian Andi Osho in Sex Education where she portrays Cal’s mother, Nicky. But Andi has also recently starred in the likes of Good Omens, Payback and Blue Lights, as well as being the author of two novels. C&TH sits down with Andi to chat all about her latest book, Tough Crowd.
Interview: Andi Osho
Hi Andi, how’s life going at the moment?
Not too shabby. Filming at the moment and hoping to carve out a bit of time to get on with book three.
Your new book Tough Crowd recently came out – can you give us an elevator pitch?
It’s about Abi, an aspiring comedian who’s constantly told she’s too much, but then meets Will who loves her just the way she is. But he comes as a package deal in the form of two kids from a previous relationship and they turn out to be the real ‘Tough Crowd’. See what I did there?
It’s your second novel after Asking For A Friend was released in 2021 – will fans of your debut enjoy Tough Crowd?
I hope so! It’s a new story world with a different set of characters but hopefully the same humour and heart. That’s what I’m aiming for, anyway. I also think people who are curious about what it’s like to be a stand up comedian will enjoy Tough Crowd.
You’re most notably an actor and comedian – what drew you to writing novels?
I love telling stories and I’ve always wanted to write novels, but didn’t know how. I was a big reader as a kid so, unconsciously, I took in a lot about style and technique, but it was only once I started that I realised just how hard it is. But it’s also a lot of fun.
And why this genre?
Well, though I stopped doing stand up about seven years ago to focus on acting and writing, I was still coming up with jokes but they had nowhere to go, so comedy novels were the perfect outlet. Plus I’m a hopeless romantic – hence the love stories that are in every book.
What’s a genre you haven’t tried before that you’d love to write?
Interesting question… There’s a part of me that would love to have a crack at something literary, but that might just be because people can be quite dismissive of commercial fiction, thinking of it as more disposable, even though there’s as much craft required as with any other type of writing.
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How did you create the main character?
In the case of Tough Crowd, I started with the concept. I knew it was about a stand up comedian who meets a guy with kids but then ends up locking horns with them. From there, I built out the character of Abi so that she felt three dimensional, with a relatable journey. In this case, being a woman who’s constantly told she’s too much but ultimately learning she’s enough.
How do you create your stories: plot or character first?
Definitely story first. Usually a concept which I start to expand and add detail to, then populate with fun, interesting characters. I’m basically playing long-form Sims.
How does it feel for the book to finally be out?
Fantastic and terrifying. It’s great to know people are finally reading something you’ve worked really hard on, but it’s scary because obviously you’re hoping readers love it and love the characters as much as you do.
Are you having/have you had a launch party?
No launch party, sadly. I think things have changed quite a bit since Covid and a lot more is happening online when it comes to marketing books. Personally, I’m a bit more analogue and love meeting people and talking about it face to face, but equally online can be our friend, too. For example, I went to several Zoom book club events last time round and loved meeting and chatting with readers.
How do you balance writing with the rest of your life? Are you strict and scheduled in treating writing like a 9-5?
I love a schedule and usually work best when I have a plan. When working on a big project like writing a novel, I find that breaking the process down into chunks makes it feel more doable. Then I’ll schedule those chunks so that I have a sense of when I’ll finish. There’s a lot of mind over matter with writing: it’s so easy to get distracted or disheartened because of the sheer amount of work. So knowing when the end point will come really helps.
You’ve recently been seen in Good Omens, and you also have Sex Education and You & Me coming up – any other roles in the pipeline you’re excited about?
I’m in Breeders and the new Jed Mercurio project, Payback which I enjoyed filming. It’s lovely to be invited back onto one of his shows and especially as I’m not dead this time!
What was filming You & Me like?
I came to the project quite late but it all seemed to go well. And nice to work on an ITV show.
What has been your favourite project to date?
It’s hard to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some great shows. Sometimes it’s the filming experience that’s enjoyable, sometimes it’s the response to it, sometimes its a bit of both. I think Blue Lights definitely hit the sweet spot for those two things.
How did you get into character/prepare for a role?
As time’s gone on, I’ve realised that every role requires a different type of preparation. With something like Blue Lights, there’s lots of research as well as understanding the emotional life of my character. Then with the likes of Line of Duty, because all my scenes were supposed to feel like archive footage, it was more about being word perfect with the lines and doing all I could to embody the tone and manner of a news journalist. Whatever it is, I love the process because I always learn something new.
Who has been your favourite actor to work with in the past?
Probably Lucian Msamati. We met on a play in 2005, then got to worked together again on Kiri over a decade later. In that time, I’d seen him do really great things on shows like Game of Thrones. It was then great to reconnect. I just really enjoyed him as a scene partner. He’s a fantastic actor and a lovely, funny person.
Which co-star did you learn the most from?
I’ve worked with Martin Freeman a couple of times, and watching him really is a master class in comedy acting. He makes it look so effortless that when you’re in a scene with him it’s easy to get distracted because I want to ask him questions about what he’s doing.
What’s your dream role?
I enjoy playing characters who work in public services, especially the medical profession, so a meaty role as a doctor would be a fun challenge – getting your head round all the technical jargon and emotional tension.
What’s a genre you’d like to do more of?
I know comedy would be the obvious choice, but I actually find it quite intimidating. Good comedy acting is a real skill that I’m still learning. I’m actually more comfortable with dramatic roles, so something in a juicy sci-fi or apocalyptic story would be right up my street as that’s what I love to watch, too.
Do you get to spend much time at home?
I do. Between roles, I’ll most likely be at home writing. I love being on location with acting work, however I do really appreciate time at home because I get to have a bit more of a routine and, of course, eat in a vaguely healthy way.
Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?
I live in town but enjoy getting out into the country. I don’t do it anywhere near as much as I used to, so that’s something to put right. When you’re self employed, it’s challenging to get a good work-life balance, but getting away from your familiar environment is so important just to reset the brain, find inspiration and recharge.
What’s your interior design style?
This is a great question, because I’m looking to buy a proper fixer upper and so I have to figure that out! I just watched an ep of Love it Or List It and Kirsty said to sit down with brochures and work out the whole interior design look ahead of time. I think it’s going to be bit of mixing and matching. I do like mid-century, but also partial to Victorian period features, so we’ll have to see what kind of hotchpotch I create.
How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?
I use how I’m feeling to navigate this and, thankfully, because I’m self employed, I’ve got a degree of flexibility to change things to create a healthier balance when things get out of whack. So if I’m feeling run down, I look to get some rest time in, do some exercise, see friends, do what I need to feel energised again.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
At various times writer, actor or teacher.
If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
There’d be no point. She wouldn’t listen. Also, if I course correct, I wouldn’t have had all the experiences I’ve been through, the good and the bad. They’ve made me who I am.
How can we all live a little bit better?
Go for walks. And I don’t mean walk more, but go for a walk where you’re not going anywhere in particular. Go alone or with loved ones, in the forest, park, by water. It’s so good for the soul. In fact, walking when you’ve got no place to be should be on prescription.
Anything fun in the pipeline – professionally or personally?
Well, there’s this renovation project. If it works out, it’ll be my first and most likely my last!
I’m currently watching… And Just Like That
What I’m reading… A Wake Up Call by Beth O’Leary
The last thing I watched (and loved) was… The Marvellous Mrs Maisel
What I’m most looking forward to seeing… The Effect at The National Theatre
Favourite film of all time… The Matrix
Favourite book of all time… Don’t make me pick. I’ve got too many classics yet to read.
Favourite song of all time… As by Stevie Wonder
Band/singer I always have on repeat… Stevie Wonder
My ultimate cultural recommendation… More theatre. It’s not as pricey as you think!
Cultural guilty pleasure… The Traitors (UK)
What’s next for me is… Payback this autumn, and Blue lights season 2!
Tough Crowd by Andi Osho is out now.