Simon Amstell @ Tramway, Glasgow

In his new show Spirit Hole, Simon Amstell pokes fun at the ego, with razor sharp self awareness paired with an assured delivery

Review by Anita Bhadani | 24 May 2022
  • Simon Amstell

The relentless onward march of time, revelations from an ayahuasca ceremony and the excavation of shame rooted in childhood. Maybe not topics you’d expect from your typical comedy set, but for Simon Amstell it's simply par for the course. 

Throughout his set Amstell explores these interweaving threads with razor sharp self-awareness paired with an assured delivery, whether that's poking fun at the trappings of stereotypical masculinity, or his own slight veer toward a midlife crisis.

After recounting a perceived romantic rejection which further exacerbated his neurosis around aging, Amstell reflects (with irony) that the only thing that provided him comfort was “knowing that nobody would ever have to know”. In throwing light on the experience, he takes ownership of it – shame is replaced with laughter.

Indeed, while not everyone in the audience may have been to an exciting Berlin sex club, or partaken in revelatory hallucinogenic ceremonies (yet), everyone has had at least a few moments they’d rather forget. Amstell skilfully draws from the personal to speak to perhaps the most universal human experience of all: cringe-inducing embarrassment. 

If this sounds like heavy stuff, not to fear: Amstell pokes fun at the ego with a balance of self-effacing vulnerability and humour that simply put, make for a really fun, even liberating, night. A shoutout must be given to Amstell's opening act, the up-and-coming talent Leo Reich, whose fresh takes on why being in your 20s isn’t exactly rosy provided a hugely enjoyable parallel. 

“Are you happy now?” an audience member from the back (slightly drunkenly) shouts as Amstell returns to the stage for an encore. “Yes”, he replies, and he seems sincere, if not slightly bemused. After a pause, he light-heartedly jokes to the crowd: “So…can I take any other questions?”

Simon Amstell: Spirit Hole, reviewed Fri 20 May; UK tour continues until 2 Jun