A great performance by Amstell - funny, thoughtful and quirky.
The Nuffield Theatre recently played host to quirky comedian Simon Amstell, as he relaunched his fourth international stand up tour, entitled ‘To be free‘. Best known as a former host of BBC music panel show, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and the writer/star of his semi biographical sitcom, Grandma’s House, Amstell was accompanied by an opening act – Norwegian comic Daniel Simonsen – and provided the night’s audience with a frank and witty set, that was hugely enjoyable.
The show began with an amusing half hour set by Amstell’s opening act, Daniel Simonsen – who has previously been seen on shows such as Russell Howard’s Good News and House of Fools. He was also the winner of the Best Newcomer award at 2012’s Edinburgh Festival. In his warm-up set, Simonsen played heavily on his awkward appearance and his Norwegian accent – often leaving long pauses to inspire anti-climactic laughs. Jokes about cats, flatmates and porn were among the most favoured on the night, and got the show off to a surprisingly great start.
As Amstell explains at the beginning of his comic monologue, the aim of the tour is quite simply to provide an insight into what it is ‘to be free’. Through amusing anecdotes and thoughts, he tells us of his ongoing spiritual journey to escape his own ego, and be happy in other aspects of his life. During the 90 minute long performance, Amstell satirically spoke of the vegan lifestyle and his egocentric competition with fellow comic and friend, Russell Brand (“I wrote a film. He started a revolution!”) which garnered many laughs. Also amongst the self-deprecating and sometimes ironically egotistical outbursts “But if [his shows in America]don’t go well, then who am I? I-I’m you” are some genuinely quite heartfelt and personal thoughts on subjects such as the difficult relationship he has with his Father and religion.
Some of his humour cuts a little close to the bone, and his comic style, if you didn’t already know, is something of an acquired taste. Though he’s not nearly as offensive as comics like Frankie Boyle and Jimmy Carr, Amstell is not afraid to ‘go there’; nor does he shy away from claiming authority and making rather overt comments. However, if taken in jest, Amstell’s humour is hugely palateable and witty. Amstell’s playful engaging with the night’s audience was also fun, with his focus on the people in the front row being particularly enjoyable and unique to our perception of the show.
Though the show ended a bit prematurely for the audience’s liking, Amstell’s one-night visit to Southampton was breezily received and enjoyed, and showcased his immense talent for mixing the existential with a rapier wit and his own quirky trademark style .
Simon Amstell’s ‘To be Free’ is currently travelling around the country. Tickets can be purchased here.