The Conversation: Comedian and TV presenter Simon Amstell on poking fun at celebrities and why nothing is too embarrassing for stand-up

 

You've been in the US performing your show Numb. How did it go down?

All I talk about really is the terrible suffering of being a human being and that seems to be the same everywhere ... so it wasn't a problem.

You talk about how you didn't have sex until you were 21 and realising you were a "horny sex pest". Is there anything that you won't use in your routine?

Only things I can't find a way yet to make funny. The reason it's satisfying for me to write and perform stand-up is because I get to find out who I am. There's a healing aspect to doing it. Why would I leave something out? If it's too personal it has to go in. If it's too shameful it has to go in. If it's too embarrassing it must go in.

There's a good line when you say, "Because I couldn't speak about this with my dad I'm going to speak about it with you all now, on TV".

The whole thing, I suppose, is quite dysfunctional. I could just be doing this with either a therapist or a friend. But there's something about hearing people laugh after you've said something that you thought was so shameful you couldn't admit it to anyone. Because in their laughter they're saying, 'We do that too! You've just told us something that we do and we were a bit concerned about saying out loud'.

Moving on: Popworld or Buzzcocks?

Is that a question?

Yes, it's a question. There's a question mark at the end of it. Popworld or Buzzcocks?

I think Popworld because we invented it from the beginning. I took over a show with Buzzcocks. And also, I was younger and I didn't know what I was doing. It's always sweeter, when people mention Popworld. There's a bit of nostalgia there. But I think, mainly, I'm just thinking of McFly.

Paul Kaye always said he regretted asking Steve Martin 'Why aren't you funny any more?'. Looking back, are there any moments that make you wince, or think, 'Oh, I wish I hadn't done that'?

I don't think I have any regrets, it's a waste of energy because what can you do? There are things I did that I wouldn't do now. But what we always tried to do was poke at some of the inauthenticities. It's a risk: people build up very strong and reliable defence mechanisms. The aim was to make people laugh and I don't think anything was ever mean or spiteful, because the intention was only ever pure joy.

I feel pressure now to poke at your inauthenticities.

Yes, you can figure out that I'm desperately trying to sound clever and the reason I keep rambling away is because I don't know what the hell I'm talking about really and I'm just an idiot...

Yes, you do ramble quite a bit.

There's a pressure you know, that even these words right now possibly could be put in print and judged, and you're feeling like you want to choose the right words, whereas if you're just in a conversation with somebody in a restaurant, you'd be having some nice food and everything would be fine. OK, I'm rambling again. What else have you got?

One last question... do you know what Preston [who famously stormed off Buzzcocks] is up to now?

No. When he walked off, he just kept walking

Biography

Born in London in 1979, Simon Amstell launched Channel 4’s ‘Popworld’ at the age of 20. He wrote and starred in the sitcom ‘Grandma’s House’ and presented ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’ for three years. His latest stand-up DVD, ‘Numb: Live at the BBC’, is released on Monday

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests