Simon Amstell review - SkinnyFest 1

Article by Yasmin Ali | 14 Aug 2006
Simon Amstell is ****. That's four stars - literally speaking, rather than any expletive of choice - mirroring Amstell's polite tone and diction, really rather good.

He's more softly spoken than his TV persona; if the camera adds ten pounds, it nearly doubles his weight. This lends him a slighter stage presence than expected, which builds significantly as the act progresses.

Much of his appeal comes from his self-effacing charm when covering comic material on religion and sexuality; frankness often diluted by laughter. Pseudo-sincere anecdotes interlace with dry commentary on the carefully-observed minutiae of modern life. Thus, a New York minute might see Simon's boyfriend discussed alongside Hitler and Nectar cards, to hilarious effect.

The set tackles issues as diverse as ethics, globalisation, homelessness and disability, in addition to the statutory self-portrayal of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Expect notably less of the latter, despite his Popworld fame.

Passing reference is made to his Channel 4 success, though more as a segue to better things. His affable celebrity-bashing is now reserved for select fellow comedians of the moment; unabashedly delivered, and indisputably received, proving that Amstell can carry off the first night of the Fringe with understated swagger.
Simon Amstell, Pleasance Dome, until August 28 (not 15), 22:40, £10/£9 (£8.50/£7.50).