Comedian-turned-novelist Andi Osho’s Tough Crowd recognises the blended families, the not-quite-made-it careers, and the difficult parental relationships. Eve Davies talks to Andi Osho about this new laugh-out-loud romantic read.
From acting to comedy, podcasting, and presenting, Andi Osho has tried her hand at it all – and now with author in her bio, she’s on her A-game. Osho published her debut Asking For A Friend in 2021 to critical acclaim, and followup Tough Crowd maintains that standard.
Tough love, tough families, tough crowds: Osho’s novel follows the journey of Abi, an aspiring comedian who has always between told that she’s too much by her overpowering mother, the media, and men. After another disappointing date at a posh bar in London, Abi meets Will – who changes the fate of her love life, but comes as a package deal that includes two daughters.
Never mind straight-faced audiences, it’s the teenagers that are hard to please. As a standup comedian, Abi is used to surfing tough crowds, but winning over her new boyfriend’s kids and introducing him to her difficult mother are some of the biggest challenges she has had to face.
So, for OG fans of Osho the author, how does Tough Crowd compare with Asking For A Friend? “It’s an entirely new story – a new set of characters in a new world – but I did sort of link it very loosely, which some people may pick up on,” Osho explains. “You don’t need to read one to get the other.”
As a character, Abi finds Osho drawing on her own emotional and practical experience as a comedian. The author, a winner of awards with three sell-out UK tours, can certainly claim experience in that arena, and is no stranger to riding tough crowds. Abi, though, is at the ‘aspiring’ stage of her career. What does comedy mean to someone with such experience?
“I’ve already been through my comedy career and passed through the other side. So now I think of comedy more nostalgically, and sort of affectionately. It was a really fun time, and I learned a lot about myself and who I am as a creative.”
Recalling the point where she was but an aspirational author, Osho wishes she’d realised novel writing is a marathon not a sprint. “When I felt like this is never ending, I would remind myself of that. You just put one foot in front of the other, you keep going, and you will get there.”
Abi’s standup material is incorporated within Tough Crowd’s dialogue, a layered kind of writing presented by Osho skilfully. “The routines were quite tricky to write,” she admits; “it’s not the same as writing a funny bit of prose or a funny passage in a book because it’s meant to be performed. It doesn’t quite translate. In subsequent drafts you add more and more humour, and it gets funnier as you go along, especially as you cut out the waffle as well. Trust the process!”
With love, family drama and comedy at the forefront, Tough Crowd is a feelgood read which Osho imagines being read “on planes and beaches”.
“It feels, I hope, like a summer read,” she continues. “I think the cover, which was designed by Emma Rogers, is really beautiful – bright and sunny, with a lovely yellow.”
Most stories have a moral, and this one is for stepparents challenged by thoughts telling them they’re not doing things ‘right’. What does Osho hope readers take away?
“Apart from an enjoyable read, I hope it gives people who are part of a blended family situation some sense that the mistakes are part of the journey, you’re just trying to figure it out, and you’re just doing the best that you can. When you know better, you do better; I hope people just give themselves a bit of an acknowledgement, recognising that if they keep working at it, and keep talking, it’ll be OK.”
Tough Crowd is published by HarperCollins on Thurs 20 July.
Price: £8.99. Info: here
words EVE DAVIES