Kojo Anim: 'Britain's Got Talent was a chance to prove to myself that I can perform in front of anybody'
PUBLISHED: 12:39 19 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:39 19 July 2019
Simon Cowell is dressed in a familiar crew-cut top and about to deliver a shuddering reality check. "I'm gonna be honest with you, Kojo," he explains, "I don't really like comedians on this show."
These ruthless and chastening judgements are nothing new - we have seen many of them before - except this time it's different. Now he is standing, and leaning closer towards that golden buzzer, and saying: "But, I love you."
When Cowell made Kojo Anim his golden act - handing him a free pass to this year's Britain's Got Talent semi-final shows - Anim knew that he was catching a big break after 20 years toiling on the stand-up circuit.
His audition video swiftly found its way on to YouTube, where it has racked up 25 million views, and now a headline tour of 25 UK towns is planned for early 2020.
"You sign up for the show and you genuinely think it's just Britain, but then it goes on TV and spreads like wildfire," says Anim, who was born in Ghana but moved to Hackney from the age of five.
"You're getting messages from Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, and I'm thinking 'how do you know about Britain's Got Talent?!' It's a global brand, and just like that, everyone knows your name.
"It was a bit overwhelming - I've never experienced those kinds of numbers - but it meant so much to me."
One of Anim's jokes from his Britain's Got Talent routine was about the dread of getting in to a taxi when you haven't got two pennies to rub together. With that in mind, one might assume the 39-year-old had dreams of winning this national talent show for the life-changing sum of money that comes with it. That wasn't a factor, though.
"For me, Britain's Got Talent wasn't about winning £250,000, it was a chance to get in front of the judges, and to prove to myself that I can perform in front of anybody.
"My goal was to make it to the final, and now here I am - announcing my first solo tour, something I've been working towards for 20 years."
Anim's first stand-up show - titled The Taxi Tour - will start in Birmingham and finish with a homecoming gig at Hackney Empire on March 20, 2020. He'll perform 23 other shows in between, sharing funny observations and stories about life, parenthood and family. Despite not starting for another seven months, Anim isn't leaving anything to chance.
"This is the most excited I've ever been," he beams."I'm a planner: somebody who is very organised. Even though it's in February and March, I'm getting ready now. I'm going to Turkey soon to clear my head and focus on which bits of material I wanna talk about.
"I'm a comedian but I don't want people to laugh without knowing me afterwards, too. (I'll be) sharing the journey that I've been through, and also talking about being a father - there's jokes about what a lot of men go through when they find out their partner is pregnant."
Anim formerly worked as a BT customer service employee who has opened gigs for high-profile comics like Dave Chappelle (at Royal Albert Hall), Chris Rock and Kevin Hart (at Wembley Arena) - the last of those three describing him as "one of the funniest comedians that America doesn't know about."
There's still a while to go yet, but Anim knows his Hackney Empire show in March will be a day almost as significant as the time he announced his talent to judges Cowell, Holden, Dixon and Walliams, and the millions of people watching at home.
"All I can say is: everyone bring a tissue for me! I know it's gonna be emotional, I'm going to have people I've grown up with, my family and the whole area that has raised me in the building. I'm a Hackney boy and I'm proud of my area.
"It taught me loads and I saw a lot, which I will be talking about. I grew up in foster care and I know there's a stigma around it, but it's the thing that saved my life. I want to do as much as I can for different boroughs; to try and be a mentor for both foster carers and foster children."