People paranoia and plenty of laughs

Not a People Person (Sam Simmons)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Performance Lawn

March 15 – 20

When Sam Simmons, dressed in a karategi, places cinnamon doughnuts on the heads of audience members, using a taxidermied kangaroo paw, it could be regarded as a random show opener. But not for those familiar with Simmons’ hyper-absurdist brand of comedy styling.


The self-confessed coriander of comedy is certainly not to everyone’s taste. Indeed, he is, as the show’s title makes clear, not a people person. He’s socially paranoid and loves animals (before comedy he worked at Melbourne Zoo); he hates hipsters and believes that we all have avian tendencies. To illustrate the point, he includes some animal impersonations, from seagull to bald eagle, relishing the chance to show off his underwear-clad dad-bod. Add in some on-point characterisations, discussions of Rob Brough and Colonel Sanders, and the most memorable of yum cha philosophies (the show is full of big questions) and it is all quite bonkers … but only in the bestest of ways, from its physical, prop-based comedy to hilarious dialogue interaction with audio montages. And when the madcap crescendos to conclusion of his unsteadily roller skating across the prop-filled stage, complete with lit candles, you cannot help but want the unconventional laughs to go on.

As Simmons’ previous Brisbane Comedy Festival incantations “Death of a Sails-man” and “Spaghetti for Breakfast” have shown, a night out with Sam Simmons is as about as far from orthodox observational/anecdotal comedy as you can get. If you are keen for daring comedy that defies conventional classification, then make sure you catch “Not a People Person” while you can. The spacious Powerhouse Lawn performance tent may have no floor, be freezing cold and see audiences packed on top of each other, but it is definitely the place to be in the final week of the 2016 Brisbane Comedy Festival.

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