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A friend bought this for me as a present, knowing that I like comedies and need more of them in my life! I'd never seen Amstell on his own before (which is unsurprising as this is his first individual stand up DVD), only as part of a panel or as a presenter, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. The reviews seemed surprisingly good, and I'd agree with them. This was a genuine and intelligent stand up that kept me well entertained throughout.
Do Nothing Live was filmed in Vicar Street, Dublin in May 2010 as is Amstell's debut stand up DVD. As I said, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, such as in terms of how he'd come across or the topics he'd cover. He actually uses a very personal stance from which to discuss and cover issues, such as sexuality or social awkwardness, and does so in a very honest way. I think that some comedians can use their own 'neurosis' and overplay it to the point where it seems neither genuine nor amusing. Amstell balances this well, adding a personal touch that I found quirky and comical, yet also quite sad at times.
Issues of sexuality come in to play, though I didn't realise Amstell was gay before watching this DVD. He discusses it openly but doesn't dwell on it as an issue itself. Rather, it is an issue that comes up as he takes us on a journey of some of his experiences and anxieties. What comes across as a big factor is his social awkwardness, though again, I didn't think he went over the top on this. He seems to stay true to who he is and how he acts rather than acting up for the sake of the audience, and this is refreshing to watch.
Despite his social awkwardness and 'neurosis' (as the media quote on the back cover) he portrays himself well and comes across clearly. He seems to have confidence in this respect, but it's more of a quiet confidence that makes me realise just how understated Amstell can be sometimes. He has a way of connecting with the audience, and indeed the viewers, because he's down to earth, he's open and he's authentic.
The comedy isn't too crude or full of swearing either. It's a good balance between being intelligent and yet equally easy to watch and fresh. I didn't get the sense of having heard it all before elsewhere; it was original and personal, yet he made it easy to empathise and feel drawn in by what he was saying. He had a very adult and modest way of viewing many issues, and I enjoyed being able to hear his perspective on various things. Overall, I think I was just left with a feeling of 'wow, he's a lovely guy, I'd like to go for a drink with him!', rather than 'he's an egotistical comedian rehashing what's been done before'.
The only 'downside', as I saw it, was the ending. I didn't think the comedy was as striking or as strong as it could have been which was a shame, because it left you wanting more and feeling like it wasn't quite finished.
Further praise can be found on the DVD cover, including : 'Intelligent, self-aware and bitingly funny' - The Observer, 'This is cerebral comedy back up by a newfound depth of feeling...he's the real deal' - The Guardian, 'Glimmering intelligence' - Independent On Sunday, and 'Like all the greats, Amstell mines his own neurosis for our pleasure. This is intelligent comedy that's as funny as it is perceptive'. I'd definitely agree with all of the aforementioned. It's quick and witty, intelligently done, and yet still quite 'deep' when considering some of the issues underlying the comedy. As I've said, he balances this very well and it results in a top stand up performance that's casual and understated, yet highly entertaining.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this so you can judge for yourself . You may just be as pleasantly surprised as I was at just how good Amstell comes across doing stand up. It made me think, it made me laugh, and it made me very glad a friend bought me this DVD!
Bonus material includes The Interview with Tim Key, and a short documentary called An Artist Prepares.
Running time approx. 1hr, Rated certificate 15
DVD released 2010, selling on Amazon for £12.99