We catch up with Simon Amstell about his no holds barred new comedy show, Spirit Hole
“I have never felt more excited about a tour in my life,” says Simon Amstell. The British comedian and filmmaker is talking up his return to stand-up, as he prepares to bring his new show Spirit Hole to audiences this autumn. A ‘blissful, spiritual, sensational exploration of love, sex, shame, mushrooms and more’, this 39-gig odyssey promises to rival his 2019 Netflix special Set Free, which took viewers on a surreal meander through his mind.
After months of lockdown left him contemplating life, the universe and stand-up, Simon has found himself more than ready to go back on the road. “The show’s better now as a result of all this,” he says. “If there’s a silver lining, I may be funnier!” Fans of his acute observational humour certainly won’t be disappointed. Right back to his early forays at the Edinburgh Fringe, and shows like 2010’s Do Nothing, Simon has proved himself a master at skewering his own social embarrassment.
If there’s a silver lining, I may be funnier!
Take shame – an emotion he tackles in this latest show. “I clear away a lot of it by voicing out loud what I’m worried about saying,” he says. “I’m really scared of not saying everything, but leaving something out – then it remains this little demon in my head, making me feel like there’s something wrong with me. But the second I vocalise what I’m embarrassed about, and realise that nothing happened – nobody walked out of the room – it’s incredibly freeing.”
While many have fallen prey to dark thoughts during lockdown, Simon seems to be flourishing. “I think I learned to surrender, finally,” he says. “We’re all under the illusion we have any control over our lives. This was some pretty strong evidence we don’t.”
Ageing – another uncontrollable aspect of life – is also a big theme. “A lot of the show is about getting older,” says Simon. He turned 40 in November 2019, a milestone he struggled with: “In our culture, we’re told there’s options, we get sold anti-ageing products. Really, the advert should say: ‘Hi. Nothing can be done. Maybe get a hobby.’”
After the year the world has endured, Simon sees light at the end of the tunnel. “This is a planet we’re not treating well,” he says. “My hope is that we’ve been challenged enough to change.” Rest assured, though: Spirit Hole won’t be one long gig about Covid. “I feel like not mentioning it would be peculiar, but going on about it would be unbearable. I’ll only discuss it through the prism of my own weird emotions.” We wouldn’t want it any other way.
You can catch Spirit Hole at Cambridge Corn Exchange on 8 November. Tickets are available via the venue’s website.