Once, a reviewer in Edinburgh noted that Australian comedian Sam Simmons could read the phone book on stage and still be funny. So in his latest show, A – K this is exactly what he does, inset with a whole lot of randomness so cleverly crafted to tie its threads together that audience members remain pretty-much oblivious to their early set-up.
As those who have seen him before can attest, when you go to a Sam Simmons show, you really have no idea what you might be in for, but know it will probably be bizarre. Simmons’ own introduction to the show being ‘about badminton with a dystopian future feel’ doesn’t’ reveal much and itself is already quite the contrast to his initial appearance to sing an operatic aria (as soprano due to a soon-explained Hungry Jacks misadventure) dressed in choir gown and neck ruffle.
This is far from traditional stand-up and what follows is all sorts of offensive as material ranges from porn names to parent’s rooms, nanna gangs, airport pranks, Cruskits, climate change, Sam’s sexy nemesis dad and nipples (a recurring, key show motif). Nobody is safe as the award-winning veteran of stand-up comedy berates an audience member for not knowing about frûche and gets another on stage to play a bit of badminton … and more. His surrealist humour also sees him having conversations with himself over the phone. Of course, like the rest of the show, they are inappropriate in language and content, but it seems that is how his audience loves it.
Despite Simmons’ unpredictability, there is still a relatability to many of the segments. Few can sound as aptly bogan as Simmons in a riff on Aldi, Logan and life at the Hyperdome, or Adelaide’s equivalent, Colonnades. And there are also the times when a joke falls flat and he berates the ‘not so special’ Sunday night audience for making it akin to performing in a fridge. There is substance behind the absurdity too; the show is loosely based around the forever responsibility he feels about being a new father (Seven years after meeting his wife in a carpark, they now have a baby girl). And who knew he is a feminist?
Certainly a Simmons show is not to everyone’s tastes. His spirited, surrealist comedy is, in itself, uncertain in its unconventionality, however, his ability to respond to each individual crowd’s energy and the deceptive craftedness of his shows make him a performer to see. Besides, he’s got to be better than those Simmons-identified self-righteous comedians like that Tom Ballard bloke.
You can catch Sam Simmons’ A – K at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from 30 March through 23 April 2017, upstairs at the Forum Theatre
For more of Meredith Walker’s theatre reviews, check out Blue Curtains Brisbane.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Kosher Bacon (MICF) – theatre review
- David O’Doherty (MICF) – theatre review
- Amity Dry’s 39 Forever (Chapel off Chapel) – theatre review
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television