My Comedy Hero: Iain Stirling on Simon Amstell
Ex kids TV presenter turned stand-up picks an ex TV presenter turned stand-up as his comic idol
In 2014, Simon Amstell was asked by presenter, bankruptee and long-term Popworld co-host Miquita Oliver about his solo show Numb. He responded thusly: ‘What’s it about? Well, you know … disconnectedness, loneliness, depression.’ Of course it is Simon, of course it is. In terms of his stand-up, his honesty is what I respect and aspire to: it is truly remarkable.
In fact, everything Simon has done delights me, and when you consider he’s a stand-up comedian and former children’s TV presenter (who was often accused of being too sarcastic to the children), the reasoning behind my admiration becomes clear. In Popworld, his detached and no-nonsense approach to interviewing resulted in a pop show like no other and something that has still to be replicated. On Buzzcocks, he was regarded as the show’s most popular host, or at least the only one that can come near to Mark Lamarr’s impressive reign.
But it’s in the stand-up arena that he truly shines. It still annoys me to this day when people talk about his TV work like it was the pinnacle of his career: ‘whatever happened to Simon Amstell?’ is almost a catchphrase when you talk about him at parties. But with two-hour specials Numb and Do Nothing, which are available to buy, and a touring schedule that sees him gigging all over the globe, I urge you to find out exactly what happened to Simon Amstell. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
As told to Brian Donaldson. Iain Stirling's UK tour kicks off on Thu 18 Feb.