Never mind the grandstanding ‘Hello Dublin!’ style introductions, Simon Amstell kicks off his show as he means to go on: ‘I’m lonely, let's start with that, shall we?’
Those who’ve brought Do Nothing because they enjoyed his acidic sniping at celebrities on Never Mind The Buzzcocks might be in for a surprise; but those who’ve followed his stand-up career, or enjoyed the domestic niggles of his sitcom Grandma’s House will be familiar with the introspective tone here.
This fretful hour – a short running time for a DVD release – concerns itself with his futile hunt for love, a quest that’s hampered by his inability to live in the moment, unconcerned with consequences. The fact that he’s analysed his romantic failings into a tightly scripted stand-up routine suggests he isn’t quite practising the carefree ‘carpe diem’ approach he preaches.
In some ways his shtick is the fairly typical comedy of Jewish angst – that the end credits play over the sort of jazz track favoured by Woody Allen or Larry David acknowledge that. The fact that the objects of his affections are impossibly thin boys adds a twist, while he’s much more painfully, explicitly aware of his failings than his American influences. When he blurts out something awkward by way of introduction to a teenager he likes, he confesses: ‘I don't know how to talk to humans.’ Except in the artificial world of stand-up, that is.
Sometimes Amstell’s withering wit is aimed at others – particularly his racist relatives who won’t accept his brother’s gentile girlfriend – but mainly he exposes his own madness in repeating the past and hoping for a different outcome; something a lot of people will surely relate to.
Indeed, the audience here in Vicar Street are very sympathetic (‘ideally, laugher is better than pity,’ he acknowledges after they ‘aah’ another of his romantic failures); and the honesty – albeit filtered – and psychological analysis make this a fascinating monologue, with the sharp, distinctive jokes a bonus.
Simon Amstell: Do Nothing
Running time: 60 minutes
Recorded at: Vicar Street Dublin
Extras: An Artist Prepares (20 mins of fretfulness); the big interview (18mins chat with Tim Key)
Released by: Universal Pictures UK, November 22
Price: £19.99 - click here to buy for £6.99 from Amazon