Does celebrity culture get too soft a ride from comedy? Shows like Extras and Bo! Selecta sometimes seem designed to give celebs the chance to poke gentle fun at carefully chosen aspects of their public profile, before coming away with the PR equivalent of a pat on the back for being ever such good sports. Three bitterly cynical cheers then for Simon Amstell, whose vicious barbs and sideswipes first on Popworld and now on Never Mind The Buzzcocks seem to genuinely puncture egos and cut the shallow down to their legitimate size. Maybe Amstell gets away with it because, thanks to his unshakeable confidence and leftfield alpha male status (like Noel Fielding, he seems to enjoy pin-up status with fans of both sexes), he makes it appear that they need him much more than he needs them. Removed from the TV and placed in the stand-up arena, Amstell uses the added space to further display his razor-sharp reactive wit but also show off a more tender side and delve into his inner life to expose an unexpected sensitivity.
Comedy preview: Simon Amstell, London
James Kettle is a writer for BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz