When Sam Simmons arrives on stage trilling like a choir boy wearing a ruffle he’s stolen from a drag queen, you might assume we’re in for another one of his absurdist prop strewn shows. But surprisingly, there are no bread shoes, no tacos being smashed on his bare chest.
He hasn't given the food props up entirely – a box of Cruskets does make a random appearance – but mostly there’s just Sam, in his favourite short shorts (because they make his “junk” look better), delivering a more stand-up style show than ever before.
Based on a review he had in the UK which said “Simmons could read the phone book and he’d be funny”, he intersperses this stand-up between the banality of reading out said phone book.
He comfortably returns to the scarily familiar suburban dead zones of his childhood, shopping centre food courts where methadone mums ash on their babies heads and old women get all dolled up to buy a tin of soup at Coles.
From here it’s not much of a long bow to pull when he suggests that places like Knox City and Fountaingate should be transformed into Euthanasia Funparks – especially more fun when they can be personally tailored to your fantasies. In Simmons’ he is flying down a giant water slide, hanging out with Liv Tyler, staring at Siamese twins, watching toddlers throw peanuts at Mikey Cahill’s head and finally landing on a giant Viennetta mattress.
Things move from surreal to personal when Simmons reveals that he and his wife have just had a baby, and he still can't quite believe it. What starts as a touching anecdote of a delirious Simmons cradling the baby after his wife has had a traumatic labour, becomes a series of raving quandaries – why do men have nipples? And what if the moon falls on his baby’s head?
Just when you think Simmons is lost in the furthest reaches of his quirky universe – whatever happened to Fruche? Why does society value bald cats but not bald men? – he brings it back to something quite real, meaningful and profound. Just when you think he’s going to lose half the audience down a politically incorrect path, he brings it back and starts singing the praises of midwives and championing women’s footy.
It’s this intelligent unpredictability that brings audiences back in droves to see Simmons’ self-described “niche” head year after year. Hopefully his new TV show is not too far away.
A Token Event
Venue: Forum Theatre - Upstairs | Cnr Flinders & Russell Sts, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 30 March – 23 April 2017
Tickets: $27 - $39