Simon Amstell is happy and settled into a wonderful monogamous relationship – so where on earth is he going to get the material for his stand-up? He brilliantly and incisively examines his own ego, self-obsession, his cage of fear and indecision through a series of anecdotes. This is coupled with a questioning of the inanity of our social rules and social appropriateness shackling us.
Amstell seeks freedom from his own ego, society’s expectations, the pressure of embracing life, and being impulsive while remaining shy and awkward. His anecdotes about missing out on an impulsive opportunity in an immersive theatre show are rib-tickling, while his challenge to why shouldn’t autistic children be allowed to masturbate in public is hilarious. His extreme honesty and self-analysis is endearing as he explains that even though he is in the happiest relationship ever, he still has dreams about a sex dungeon with a slut-boy.
Obviously Amstell’s happiness does mean that he is well-adjusted, he remains self-involved, self-aggrandising (‘I am Jesus. I am Ghandi’) and repeatedly brings up his parent’s divorce and his father’s religious problems with Simon’s sexuality. This is delivered in Amstell’s awkward, geeky manner which is his ‘clown’ delivering what is really a slick, confident routine and you feel that Amstell is in complete command of his routine. Apart from, maybe, the moment he gets distracted by an attractive boy on the front row and begins to make some slightly creepy advances on him.
Amstell’s confidence in addressing the audience directly and delivering slick one-liners (‘Do you think you’ll laugh at any point? I hear a whole audience laugh but all I can see is this front row of misery’) is reminiscent of his Buzzcocks days and adds some spontaneity and unexpectedness to the mix. ‘I realize that you have all come to see me because you love me…but that love is conditional on me being funny!’ Amstell’s ego craves the audience’s love and with a slick, funny and thoughtful show like this, I think he deserves it.
Reviewed on 15th February 2015