Reviewer: James Higgins
Simon Amstell is a man with two sinks. Sitting alongside one another in his nice new bathroom, in his nice new flat, they serve only to remind him of his loneliness he says, until he found a use for both: "I now brush my teeth in the left hand one and in the right hand one I mainly cry"
The journey into Do Nothing has begun and is a universe away from Channel 4's Popworld and the entertainment TV that have been Simon's staple diet over the last few years. The ex host of acclaimed music quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks quit the show back in April in a bid to concentrate on live tours and performances. The Simon Anstell creature that emerges during the course of his new act is very different to the brash TV persona he conveys that puts unwary celebs on the back foot. Do Nothing is very introspective and allows us to peer closer into his actual self. He tells how he is single and attracted to thin unhealthy looking types.
Just ten minutes into his set he begins to venture into religious territory and jokes that in fact Jesus may well have been just his type when a huge shout went up from the back of the room: "How dare you !" a lady cried. The audience gasped and performer froze. Suddenly the lights went up and it emerged an audience member had objected to being told to shut up and threw a drink at a fellow audience member. They took their differences outside. Could anyone remember where we were ? "Helicopters" shouted someone. "Religion" shouted another. Simon pauses looking suitably confused. "You would expect that in Southend, at Jimmy Carr but this is Richmond, Surrey" he jokes and so on with the show.
A picture of an somewhat awkward uneasiness emerges with relationships, family and with fame. We hear how his straight best mate helps him join a strangers picnic with a view to a pick up in the park as he lacks the confidence to chat up someone he likes, how he meets an older female fan who leaves him alone with her posh son he fancies who he accepts like a present,
his strained relations with some family members, how he mooned his Grandmother when aged 15 in order to try to break the cycle of constant approval. "Let us for the purpose of this story imagine I was just 11 at the time" he says in an attempt to seek our forgiveness. Recalling how his brother's girlfriend is not welcome at a family party as she isn't Jewish he says "We mustn't judge them - its just because they have a strong belief in racism." The nature of the show's title comes from the fact that would shouldn't try to change people that we know but instead "do nothing", this seems at odds to when he tells us to act spontaneously because after all, we are all going to die so we should live in the moment, something he finds of great difficulty as he likes to over analyse everything and sometimes he imagines he is doing something not completely in the present as it is "for the memory"
Simon Amstell is very funny but could and should be funnier still. If he could only realise he is already accepted warmly despite his protestations that make him sound like an awkward teen. He comes across as very eloquent and tells his stories with great effect. He isn't shouty comic who delivers big one liners but does swear and raise his voice when he feels the need to help emphasise a point. He will with time continue to improve of that I am certain. Ten minutes into Do Nothing he was stopped in his tracks and he said he hoped we didn't solely remember the night because of a scuffle in the stalls. He need not of worried judging by the gurgles, giggles and guffaws that followed. Make sure you grab a ticket.
on Nationwide tour until 17th November 2009 - click here for more info