“Anything that brings joy to people, I am very much in favor of” – interview with Simon Amstell

He’s made a name for himself on TV, but there’s a lot more Simon Amstell bowstring. The comedian, screenwriter, director, presenter and actor will come to Cambridge in November.

Simon Amstell. Photo: Harry Carr

Known to many as a talkative, curly-haired comedian and popular TV presenter whose mischievous charm and witty disparagement have made programs such as Popworld and Don’t mind the buzzcocks To watch, Simon Amstell has also successfully branched out into acting, sitcom writing, and feature films.

Begin his first stand-up tour since the release of his second internationally acclaimed film Benjamin (2018) and his Netflix special To free (2019) on September 1 in London, the affable 41-year-old will bring Mindlessness – his oddly titled new show – at the Cambridge Corn Exchange next month.

Described as a “happy, spiritual and sensational exploration of love, sex, shame, mushrooms and more” Mindlessness promises “a night of unprecedented joy and laughter”.

Simon, who won two British Comedy Awards, a Chortle Award and was nominated for a BAFTA, said of the new offer: then there’s a story of going to a sex club in Berlin, so I think ‘there should be something for everyone.

Simon Amstell - Mindhole
Simon Amstell – Mindhole

Commenting on the rather late 1960s tour poster, the Londoner – a vegan and a teetotaler – adds: “There’s definitely a psychedelic vibe to the whole show, I’d say.” Coming back to stand-up, is Simon going back to his first love? “Maybe this is my second love!” he’s laughing.

“I think my first love when I was a kid did the kind of thing Chris Evans used to do on The big breakfast, and then pretty quickly my second love became the kind of thing Eddie Izzard still does on stage – so I’m thinking maybe TV, followed by stand-up.

“But now I feel like I’m doing a lot of different things, so now it’s like one of the loves. I love doing that and I also love making movies – so it’s definitely one of the top three loves, I would say … “

Simon’s first foray into cinema came in 2017 Carnage, which he wrote and directed. He also wrote and starred in the well-received BBC sitcom Grandmother’s house, which lasted two rounds from 2010 to 2012. He says he spent the lockdown period doing “magic mushrooms, a lot of writing, a lot of swimming, and maybe surrendering to the fact that it’s happening. was producing, I guess … “

He adds: “I just finished writing a new movie, so if we get the money by the end of this tour, maybe I can do it. “

Simon says he always wanted to get into filmmaking, although he wasn’t fully aware of it at the time, noting: “When I was a kid, when my sister was born – who was 10 years old. years younger than me – a camcorder was bought by the family and I quickly stole it and started filming things like puppet shows with my brother.

“Then I guess I started playing in front of the camera – it took me a while to get back to getting behind. But I think in all the schools I was in, I tended to write; I think I was the only kid there who wrote skits that we could play at the annual variety show. So I feel like maybe I was doing this sort of thing before I even got into TV. “

Simon Amstell.  Photo: Harry Carr
Simon Amstell. Photo: Harry Carr

Simon found that on his recent projects he had put a lot of effort into writing and directing and that he didn’t really miss being in front of the camera. “When I made the film Carnage a few years ago it was a real relief to just be the voiceover and not be on screen at all, ”he explains,“ and then when i did my last movie, Benjamin, I wrote it and directed it and I didn’t produce it in any way.

“As much as I love being on stage and acting and being funny and showing off, it was a real relief to know that I also couldn’t have to be the center of attention and have actors who would bring your lyrics to life. in a way you might not have imagined.

Not only did Simon start writing skits at a young age, he also started young when it came to appearing on television. Who could forget this now infamous appearance on Hello with Anne and Nick in the 90s, for example, where a 12-year-old Amstell master gave presenters and viewers a very precise impression of Dame Edna Everage?

“I used to really cringe at everything I did as a kid,” he says (other early TV appearances included GamesMaster and Family password), “but now I think he was awesome! I’m really thankful that he was so confident and curious – and my mom was really good at pushing me forward and making me feel like I could pretty much do n ‘ whatever.

Simon Amstell.  Photo: David Levene
Simon Amstell. Photo: David Levene

“I did my first standing gig when I was 13, which is a weird thing to do, but thank goodness I wouldn’t be doing this tour! And I really enjoyed doing it. I mean some of what he says and wears is slightly embarrassing, but he was just a kid – some of what I say and wear now is not ideal! So I think this kid is awesome, I love him.

Simon notes: “What I feel like I’m doing right now is a stand-up show every two years and a movie every two years,” suggesting that we won’t be seeing him anytime soon. our television screens. “It seems to be going pretty well – I just feel very comfortable and fulfilled. “

Simon presented a TV pop quiz Don’t mind the buzzcocks regularly from 2006 to 2008, succeeding the show’s original host, Mark Lamarr. His passage was attended by a series of guest presenters, then by a permanent host in the form of his fellow actor Rhod Gilbert.

After ending in 2015, the show was recently relaunched, with Greg Davies at the helm. Is Simon – surely one of the best Don’t mind the buzzcocks presenters – do you think this is a good idea? “Of course, whatever people want to do,” he replies. “Anything that brings joy to people, I am very supportive.”

He says of his time on the show: “Everything seems like it was so long ago … My friend Miquita [Oliver] – to whom I presented a program called Popworld with many years ago – and I made a little reunion to The

Guardian about six months ago and I was quite reluctant to do it, thinking of something that was so long ago, but it was a pretty happy thing to do in the end.

“I tend to only think about the things I’m doing at the moment. Like yesterday, I spent the day going through this new show and trying to figure out how to make it as funny as possible. I’m kind of in a different headspace, I think.

Simon said he was excited at the idea of ​​”being able to go on tour again, after not having been able to do so for a long time”. He adds, “I feel like this may be the most laughing, fun-loving show I’ve ever written …

Simon Amstell.  Photo: Harry Carr
Simon Amstell. Photo: Harry Carr

“I just played at various festivals, warming up the whole show, and it was a really happy experience actually. The joy of being on stage and making people laugh again has been really exciting. I feel very lucky to be able to do it again and I feel more free than I ever did on stage, and off, I guess.

Simon has great affection for the city he will soon be visiting. “I love Cambridge,” he says. “For a while I had the fantasy that I really should have gone to Cambridge University, but they don’t tend to let people in unless they have a higher bac than me !

“But it’s always so beautiful to be in Cambridge and on the last two tours we ended up going by boat … I come to Cambridge every now and then even though I don’t play there, so it it’s nice to go and get paid too!

Simon Amstell will appear at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Monday, November 8. For tickets, visit cornex.fr. To learn more about Simon, visit simonamstell.com.

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