Surrealist spirit

Sam Simmons

Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre

March 24 – 26

Once, a reviewer in Edinburgh noted that Australian comedian Sam Simmons could read the phonebook 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 setup.

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.

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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. Indeed his huge popularity seems Simmons in the largest of the Powerhouse theatres for this year’s Comedy Festival, a first in his recent annual appearances.

Despite Simmons’ unpredictability, there is still a relatability to many of the segments. Few can sound as aptly bogan as Simmons in 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.

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