Simon Amstell: Numb

Review by Chris Tapley | 23 Aug 2012
  • Simon Amstell

In case you hadn’t noticed, Simon Amstell is no longer a cheeky popstar-baiting scamp. He’s developed into a tortured philosopher who covers his pain with laughs and uses the stage as therapy. As he jokes “it’s not like a fun night out.”

Continuing a theme from his previous shows, Amstell examines his inability to live in the moment, free from social anxiety and crippling self doubt. It's not all about him though, and in discussing his own problems he touches on some wider issues with real passion. He serves up a wonderfully twisted metaphor on how to dismantle the mainstream media by making an example of Justin Bieber, describes a memorable attempt to help a friend flirt and deconstructs his many meetings with humourless hipsters. These stories aren’t just comedic in their events though, they’re jam packed with genuinely brilliant one liners and all feed back into the deft conceptual framework of the show, which is already heavy with big ideas of how to find meaning in the world.

Amstell wields these concepts with an assuring vulnerability and sarcastic pomposity though, and in lesser hands this could come off as remarkably self important stuff. Here though it becomes a masterful hour of powerful cathartic stand-up, as thought provoking as it is laughter inducing.

Simon Amstell: Numb, The Bongo Club, until 26 August, 20:30, £16.50/£15