The comedian is neurotic, searingly honest and very funny. But has he finally learned to love himself? He talks to Eva Wiseman about his new film, tricky fathers and being a big cat

Simon Amstell was in a car on the way to the premiere of his first feature film, and he was feeling anxious. This wasn’t surprising. Anybody might be expected to be nervous screening the first film they’d written and directed, a semi-autobiographical love story about intimacy. But those who have followed Amstell’s career, whether making musicians sweat on Popworld or the stand-up shows where he unpicks his mental health for laughs, might expect another level of anxiety, a kind of high-pitched hum of anxiety from the back seat.

This is a man who lives in a vacuum of discomfort (at an orgy in LA, having cautiously touched a bottom, “so hard it was like a cupboard,” he found himself frustrated by the casual sex and nudity, and really wishing someone was wearing a hat). Now 39, Amstell has always insisted on revealing the truth, however excruciating that may be. His film, titled Benjamin, tells the story of a man, not unlike Amstell, who is premiering his own feature; the first scene they shot was Mark...

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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19 April 2019