SCATHING comic Simon Amstell whose career was founded on tearing into celebrities on Popworld and Never Mind the Buzzcocks has shifted the focus onto himself for his latest tour as he dissects his troubled relationship with his parents.
His fifth UK tour — What Is This? — visited Sheffield City Hall on Thursday night and presented a new Amstell I had never seen before.
Part-therapy session, part stand-up, but full on hilarity, it was no-holds-barred as he discussed orgies, bowel movements, drugs and err, Dorset weddings.
In the revealing show, Amstell opens up about the struggles he faced with his sexuality, his short-lived voyage into the Parisian gay scene and the family breakdown after he told his Jewish parents he was gay.
He said to his mum that he thought she already knew “because he joined a drama club as a kid and did tap dancing”, to which his mum told him off for stereotyping.
His infamous sharp tongue was nicely flexed when one gig-goer decided to leave as he was talking about being rejected from his father, “daddy don’t go”, he cried over to the embarrassed punter — "Am I not funny enough for you?”
It was refreshing to see such an open and honest Amstell — despite spending my teen years and beyond watching his work, I’ve never really felt like I knew much about him.
But that certainly can’t be said now as What Is This? is Amstell laid bare as a 37-year-old man finally comfortable in his own skin, in a loving relationship and without the need to rip into celebrities to make people love him.
Amstell plays up to the tortured artist persona and gently mocks it, even he knows it’s a step too far up your own backside when a shaman tells him he’s gone beyond experiencing discipline during meditation at a posh retreat and has now reached “blissapline”.
Amstell's fab-u-lous support act, London-based Mawaan Rizwan, who I suspect is the young gay man Amstell wishes he could have been — loud, proud and unapologetic — is also worthy of a mention.
He’s the self-confessed “annoying one” at a party, the guy whose doctor restricted him to three slut-drops a month due to repetitive strain injury and the one with an endless supply of glitter in his shell suit pocket.
Silly, slapstick and joyous, I want him in my life every day.