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© Richard Davenport

Sam Simmons – Death of a Sails-Man review

Soho Theatre

By Danielle Goldstein
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On stage stands a perspiring Australian, clad head-to-toe in Spandex, spitting absurd remarks through a headset that was last seen on Britney Spears in 1999. Either I’ve walked into a derailed motivational conference or this is Sam Simmons doing what he does best.

The 37-year-old surrealist comic is a dab hand at making an audience feel confused about chuckling by constantly dishing up the unexpected. In this show alone he spits out Lego men mid-sentence, has outbursts of rave dancing and chews on a wet wipe he’s been keeping in one of his two bumbags, seemingly at random. On the surface everything about Simmons’s delivery is erratic, but the humour lies in his impeccable timing.

In ‘Death of a Sails-Man’ – which bagged him a second nomination for the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award earlier this year – the barmy Aussie plays a muesli baron who, while windsurfing to Biggie Smalls, is lost at sea. Simmons clings to a stage-mounted sail while regaling listeners with the inner workings of a madman’s mind. He grabs frantically at the props scattered around the stage for ‘underwater’ sketches or songs including one about ‘Space Nan’, all aided by his blasé stagehand (played by Lee Griffiths).

Occasionally, Simmons even appears to slip out of character to berate the crowd for not getting the jokes, even though laughter abounds. Were he not in such a rage, you could mistake his faux frustration for genuine ire, and some do. ‘London had enough of pastiche comedy with the “Mighty Boosh,”’ retorts a woman in the front row. Simmons’s eyes immediately bulge in her direction as he screams sarcastically, ‘Because no Australian comic has ever done anything original!’ 

But this one is doing it right now. He may be doing it dressed as a shambolic Mr Motivator, but Simmons is taking funny to new depths.

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