Amstell's Pleasance stand-up show, intriguingly named No Self, sold out almost immediately at this year's Edinburgh Comedy Festival, so he added two extra dates to his run this year, one of which I caught.
Amstell has certainly benefited from his television experience, presenting programs such as Popworld and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. He is relaxed in his conversation and his build up to his punchlines are sharp and well-observed, delivered with excellent timing.
He recounts his exploration on the purpose of life resulting from a failed relationship that "should have worked." He wittily intertwines various theories with his own experience with his family and friends, acknowledging "we need tragedy to give us jokes." He reveals plenty of areas of his life that he believes are funny and the audience by most accounts agree, however there is something about his routine that skims over the real jokes without fully exploiting them.
Amstell clearly has talent for storytelling and has a gift for pointing out how the most insignificant snippets of conversation can deliver hilarious results. He does this particularly well when re-enacting conversations with his family and boyfriend: "You deliberately picked the funniest item in the trolley!" (a pineapple).
Despite his initial relaxed manner, for some reason on this particular occasion he seemed to lose his nerve, which did interfere with his routine slightly. Despite this, these moments of apparent nervousness did not ruin his overall impact on the audience, while thinking on his feet his charisma and natural wit shined through. Amstell's talent does seem to be evolving with time and fairly soon I am sure he will reveal to us his true brilliance as a stand-up comedian.
Times: 10.30pm - 11.30pm until the 27 August 2007
© Lauren Quinn, 19 August 2007. First published on EdinburghGuide.com