Last minute hero
With his private life splashed before our very eyes, Popworld’s SIMON AMSTELL has very little to fear any more. Except, Giacomo Ribisi reckons, saying too
many rude words.
f my hangovers had a face, it would be Simon Amstell‘s. Alongside Miquita ()liver on Channel 4‘s Popworld. the 25—year-old stand-up and presenter has made boy bands almost bearable on Sunday mornings. Indeed. with pop music now in terminal decline. his
cheeky interviews are like the rallying cough of
a tuberculosis patient in the final moments before they die. It‘s impossible to praise him any higher: the lad is a small-screen legend. The youngest ever finalist of the BBC‘s New Comedy Awards. he‘s reminiscent of those Festival stand-ups who stay out all night to heckle kids‘ shows in the morning. only friendlier and more polite. Can you imagine Cat Deeley tackling the issue of crowd unrest by asking Five Star‘s Steadman: ‘So. have you ever had a fruit come right in your face'."
‘1 think because we‘re on at 9.30 in the morning. we are a bit rude.‘ he admits. ‘Late night Fridays on Channel 4. you can say "fuck" or anything and it‘s not funny or naughty. But it works on Sunday momings. Even a little word like “balls“.‘ It should be pointed out that Amstell doesn‘t heckle children‘s performers but will be at the Festival. hosting his Last Minute
‘MY COMEDY IS A HUGE EGO-DRIVEN PARADE'
Alternative chat show with resident houseband Priorité a Gauche.
‘It‘s been going quite well in the previews.‘ he says. ‘We‘re just trying to get that award- winning banter going between us. At the moment it‘s scripted but brilliant. We just want to make it off-the—cuff and. wow. anything could happen next.‘ So. what‘s the set-up for the shows? ‘We want a comic. a music act and a weird act every night. We‘ll be after big name showbiz guests but we‘ll also try to have a hot spot where we'll find something new and exciting that you may not have heard of yet.‘
Amstell‘s is an impressive chat record with the stars. including getting Britney Spears to admit that the last thing in her mouth was a dildo - ‘I expected her to say a fish finger or something. We had to cut it‘ — and intimidating the notoriously homophobic Beenie Man. ‘Essentially he said let‘s go out and find some women and l hesitated. He asked if I had a girlfriend or was I married and I said no. I had a boyfriend but we split up. And he looked a little perturbed. So I offered him some therapy.‘
As one of the few openly gay youth presenters. Amstell is in a rare position. but he insists it‘s no big deal. ‘When I came out it was very Channel 4.‘ he maintains. ‘Now it‘s a bit
22 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 18—25 Aug 200:")
[TV lt‘s irrelevant now and. as a minority. once it‘s irrelevant. you‘ve won. But there are still closeted pop stars and actors who should
probably relax a bit. People can‘t touch you if
you put the truth out there before them. And the secret to doing comedy is truth. My coming out is a very funny story. And my comedy is just generally about me. a huge ego-driven parade. It‘s about being young in London. trying to find love. happiness and stuff.‘
This need to he himself is why Amstell‘s stand-up touches on his Jewish upbringing and the tenuous reason he became a vegetarian. ‘l‘m definitely not happy just getting laughs. It‘s got to be interesting too. I became a vegetarian for the material and now I‘m a vegetarian with no
jokes.‘ Despite the debacle of Channel 4‘s The Morning After Show. which he claims had no chemistry between the presenters and ‘literally gave me nightmares: I cheered when it got cancelled‘. Amstell‘s career is in the rudest health it‘s ever been. Currently deputising for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant on their XFM Saturday afternoon radio show. he also has his own celebrity quiz in the works. ‘It hasn‘t got a title yet. but it‘s going to be silly games. with all the money based on their intelligence. ()r lack thereof.‘
In the meantime though. there‘s the Last Minute Alternative and an appearance at the lntemational TV Festival. debating whether the glory days of 72);) (if the Pops and The Tube will ever return. a spot of grave-dancing considering how bad he makes 'lbtl’ look every weekend. ‘The only thing to grab you on that programme is the branding of pop. To be honest. I haven‘t really thought about it but 1 used the word “brand” there and that sounds intelligent. right?
On Popworld. we don‘t take our references
from pop shows but from chat shows.
We‘re trying to be as good as
very good chat shows and
putting the programme
together every day is ajoy.
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