Simon Amstell: Do Nothing, The Bongo Club

Julian Hall
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:19

Do Nothing is an eloquent journey through the apparent haplessness of Simon Amstell's love life, a portrait far removed from the savage razor-sharp wit that we know from Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

It's surprisingly easy to buy Amstell's modesty and the fact that he might semi-stalk actors he fancies or need advice from a best friend on how to engineer a one-night stand. The honesty of the hour moves one away from thinking this is a "poor me" show to considering it as "look at my poor romantic record – it's funny" show. It's gently funny in truth, due to the slender comic largely avoiding gratuitous punchlines. While that's to his credit, this show just isn't as funny as you think it should be. Somewhere in the mix of his honesty and his mild paranoia, his killer instinct and timing have softened.

Not that there aren't memorable lines. Suggesting that sex, like sport, could just be fun he argues that no one ever says: "You are playing all that tennis; where's that leading?" Later in the show, Amstell recounts meeting a future conquest and his mother, they all get on famously and in précis: "She liked my work. I liked her son. Fun."

In the latter part of the show the focus switches away from Amstell's affairs of the heart to those of his brother and the impact they have on his family. Here the passive stance of the title is tied up albeit unconvincingly.

Despite the holes that can be picked, like a less hysterical Woody Allen, Amstell achieves the paradox of an easy- listening neurosis. By comparison to some of the more boisterous shows on the Fringe this is music to the ears.

To 30 August (0131-557 2827)

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