Simon Amstell – Do Nothing Live

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“I have too many sinks” sighs vulnerable TV-presenter-come-stand-up-comedian from Essex, Simon Amstell, in his latest live DVD.

Performed on 22nd May 2010 in Dublin, and released on DVD in November last year the comedian begins the show, somewhat nervously, but appreciative of the prolonged whoops and cheers from various audience members which appears to take him a-back momentarily. Regaining his thread he continues on a beautifully tragic vein throughout.

The appeal of Simon Amstell is difficult to pinpoint, yet his remarkable self-reflective personality and ability to laugh at his flaws makes for an endearing performance. From telling anecdotes of his youth and his life growing up in a Jewish family, to remarks that “I am incredibly lonely” allows the audience to feel a connection with him.

“I really thought a cat would end my loneliness, it has only become a mascot for my loneliness”

Amstell was astonishingly cautious in some aspects of his show regarding issues such as religion. This differed to previous performances, such as in Regents Park Open Air Theatre in London, where his harmless jokes aimed at various groups of people were much more obviously explicit, though inoffensive. However, his intelligent performance is still incredibly funny with constant links back to his feeling that he has an inability to communicate with people, even, he says, with his mother.

To consider a comedian as an extrovert who must be ‘a laugh a minute’ in everyday life, not only on the stage, is almost always a misconception. Amstell perhaps differs to this as he portrays his shyness on stage through a boyishly-squeaky delivery of his material yet simultaneously creating intelligent scenarios.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of his show was the way it is possible to relate to the situations he describes. How often is it, particularly during university life, that on meeting new people you wish the right words would come out, so as to sound more witty, more intelligent, or funnier than you are? Although Amstell clearly takes this emotion to extremes for comedic effect there is some subtle sympathy embedded in the laughter of the audience.

Ending the show on an almost philosophical point – but comically portrayed – Amstell insists that acceptance is key if a frustrating situation is out of your control. This perfectly sums up the entire performance, and even Amstell himself, as his constant anxiety about falling into situations he is unprepared for can be related to by almost anyone.

“If there’s nothing you can do about something, then you do nothing”

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