Simon Amstell, ‘do nothing’

Posted on: 11/11/2009

By Catharine Baldwin

Review: Simon Amstell

Venue: Oxford Playhouse

Rating: ****

Simon Amstell, the hilariously witty former host of Popworld and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, delved deep into his own insecurities and angst during his new stand-up routine to deliver a very touching and personal performance. Coupled with his own memories and philosophical contemplations the performance was not only incredibly funny but intelligent at that – a ‘genius recluse’, as he revealed he prefers to be seen as.

The evening started disappointingly, however, with an unexpected supporting act.  Arnab Chanda (‘Raj Puri’ in the ITV2 series ‘Trinity’ and a writer from the 22nd series of Never Mind the Buzzcocks) did well to abate the feeling of discontent resonating around the theatre with a well thought out comedy routine, however he failed to captivate an audience that had come simply for Simon. Though by the time Simon did step on stage, his many fans were ready to scream his praise.

Having been to his warm-up gig in London a few months back, my friend and I knew most of the jokes already, but second time round they were just as amusing, and the routine had been refined and perfected.

Though you couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sorrow for Simon at particular points in his routine: “Having two sinks just makes me realise how lonely I am…I use one for brushing my teeth and the other…to cry in.” At which point, doubtless many people would’ve pointed out that they’d be delighted to use the other sink…myself included.

One unusual part of the evening was a rather unexpected piece of audience participation – a considerably drunken man interrupted Simon mid-joke to loudly declare that he’d ‘lost his girlfriend’. Simon quickly took this opportunity to turn the interruption into a comical event, requesting for the lights to be turned on to locate this ‘lost girlfriend’. Fortunately, the girlfriend was located, but Simon didn’t continue until he had probed this interesting man – named Ollie – about his life and work, much to the embarrassment of his girlfriend, Jane, who was desperate for him to return back to his place. Due to this disruption, Simon came back on stage after the routine to check that ‘everyone was alright’, drawing attention back to Ollie and Jane who were just leaving, declaring no sooner as the door had shut that “The yobs have left everyone!”, to rapturous applause.

However the highlight of the evening for me was running to the stage door to wait in the cold amongst a sparse few other ardent Simon Amstell fans in the hope of meeting him (in my friend and I’s case, for a second time). We were lucky, as it was a mere 20 minutes before he came out to greet his fans, although he looked perplexed when my friend and I thrust into his hands our photo of us standing with him from last time for him to sign: “Erm, wow, no one’s ever done that before…”. And looked even more perplexed, if not a little scared, when my friend’s answer to his question, of whether we’d be back to get our photo from this time signed, was a particularly quick “Well, yeah…This is our life!”

Nevertheless, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and an unforgettable experience, and I would encourage any comedy fans to go and see his stand-up routines – you won’t be disappointed.


1 Response to "Simon Amstell, ‘do nothing’"

haha! i LOVE your aticle! your writing is so good! i LOVE simon (as you know!) his show is fantastic and he is so lovely! brilliant article! but what is with your friends “it’s our life” comment? i acctually think its a brilliant comment and simon would have been really pleased to hear it! im glad he is our… friend! well done on the article, cant wait for more (about simon of course!) jo xxx

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