Stand-Up Preview: Simon Amstell, Numb – Brighton Dome 2 June 2012

Award-winning comedian Simon Amstell brings his Numb tour to the Brighton Dome on June 2.

It’s been four years since Simon Amstell shocked irreverence fans when he quit as presenter of Never Mind the Buzzcocks to concentrate on his stand-up tours and writing projects. A more playful, but no less acerbic successor to the NMTB chair’s first incumbent, the spiky ‘50s throwback Mark Lamarr, for three years Amstell’s sardonic put downs reinvigorated an oversaturated field of stale panel shows.

Amstell’s time on Buzzcocks is fondly remembered for the multitude of infamous incidents that occurred involving the guests: Amstell causing the Celebrity Big Brother star Preston to storm off set while reading out extracts of his then-wife Chantelle Houghton’s autobiography – “the photoshoot was for the Daily Mail, which made me feel really posh and upmarket”; clichéd punk Donny Tourette showing two fingers to the system by sparking up a fag; and the time an inebriated Amy Winehouse – in a particularly chaotic appearance – spat onto the studio floor.

Amstell’s big break came as co-presenter of T4’s music show Popworld alongside Miquita Oliver in 2001. For five years Amstell pin-pricked the egos of upcoming pop wannabes through ironic putdowns, surreal asides and absurd interviewing techniques. ‘Lemar from Afar’ was a particular highlight – Amstell interviewed homegrown R&B star Lemar from the opposite side of the world’s largest car park using a megaphone (tragically this moment of televisual folklore is not viewable on YouTube, lost somewhere in the ether that is the Channel 4 archive department).

The Simon Amstell stand-up persona is markedly different to the Simon Amstell television presenter persona that famously made Britney Spears break down in tears, however. Amstell cuts an introverted, forlorn figure as he seeks meaning in his life. He channels a sensitive suburban Woody Allen shtick with his fusion of anxiety and philosophy, receiving critical acclaim for his last show, Do Nothing.

Having scarpered from television screens for a few years to kick-start his stand-up career, Amstell returned from the proverbial wilderness in 2010 with Grandma’s House, a sitcom about a comedian called Simon Amstell who has just quit an award-winning panel show and his dysfunctional family.

You have to wonder where he gets his ideas from.

Grandma’s House is the British answer to Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, with hints of The Royle Family. The show’s second series began last month and is currently showing on Thursday nights at 10pm on BBC2.

Tickets for Simon Amstell at the Brighton Dome Saturday 2 June 8pm can be purchased at www.brightondome.org on the web, or by telephone on 01273 709709.

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