tue 13/11/2018

Sam Simmons, Soho Theatre | reviews, news & interviews

Sam Simmons, Soho Theatre

Sam Simmons, Soho Theatre

London run for the Edinburgh Comedy Award winner

Sam Simmons won both the Edinburgh Comedy Award and Melbourne's Barry award for his latest show

Sam Simmons' new show – for which he won the Edinburgh Comedy Award last month and the Barry award at Melbourne earlier this year – is titled Spaghetti for Breakfast, but could easily be called “Things That Shit Me”; the phrase pops up repeatedly on a recorded loop, as the Australian comic runs through the large number of things that annoy him.

The hour-long show is the surrealist comedian's most personal yet; among the wonderfully silly clowning, the comic delivers painfully honest anecdotes about his childhood, which help explain “why I turned out this weird”.

Apparently throwaway gags are set-ups for jokes that come much later in the show

His mother, he says, took a no-nonsense approach to teaching him life lessons, and the reason for the tangled extension cable in the centre of the stage – which we at first take to be a metaphor for a seemingly jumbled mess of a life or a comedy show – is later revealed to have a darker meaning altogether.

Nothing in this hour – not even a jar of olives or an iceberg lettuce – is simply as it appears. Rather, everything has layers of meaning, apparently throwaway gags are set-ups for jokes that come much later in the show – including one inspired visual gag involving a feather boa – and the seemingly chaotic nature of what is going on on stage is anything but.

Simmons starts the show, dressed in towelling robe and fluffy slippers, with a lengthy segment involving breakfast cereal, during which he quizzes the audience on their breakfast of choice and snorts a line of crushed Rice Krispies. Food – or rather the misuse of foodstuffs – plays a big part in the show and soon Simmons is carving himself a lettuce-leaf cap to cover his early baldness (he's 38), which is, you will have guessed, another thing that shits him.

As well as the knockabout fun, there's also a wonderful takedown of unthreatening-bloke-with-a-mic comedy, potshots at performance art such “Cirque du Soleil-type shit”, and several interruptions via a recorded Josie Long who heckles him, telling Simmons that his comedy must be relevant. He also has a sly dig at introspective comedy where the comic goes on an emotional journey in a show with a narrative arc – which is, of course, Simmons knowingly having his cake and eating it.

The show draws towards a close with a homily that borders on preachy, but the serious stuff is spooned, rather than ladled, into the daftness. Simmons has said he wanted his absurdist comedy to be a little more “relatable” and Spaghetti for Breakfast is certainly more obviously observational than previous work. But it's also funny, weird, and rather wonderful.

Food - or rather the misuse of foodstuffs - plays a big part in the show

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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