Fringe review: Sam Simmons – FUNT

Sam Simmons brings his unique brand of weirdness back to the stage, delivering an absurdist diversion from post-apocalyptic gloom, environmental disaster and panic buying. ★★★ ½

Mar 12, 2020, updated Mar 12, 2020

Sam Simmons is not a fan of crumpets.

In his sole tribute to the prop-heavy shows of past years, FUNT opens with a pack of Golden Crumpets suspended in a spotlight. Simmons valiantly attempts to weave his set back to this framing device with just as little success as you might imagine, the breakfast treat being a tricky subject to inject into banter several times an hour.

But that’s the beauty of Simmons’ comedy. He’s hilarious even when he’s obviously failing, and drawing the audience’s attention to how badly his material is bombing is part of his schtick.

In a set heavily peppered with musical numbers such as “Pretty Shit Things”, “Cat Man” and a recap of the plot of The Shawshank Redemption, the comedian breaks away from the style of his shows in previous years. Gone are the costume changes, absurdist props and cunningly structured storytelling. The dangling crumpets and a fleeting sock puppet aside, Simmons channels his absurdist sensibilities into lyrics and surreal anecdotes about hang-gliding with Willem Dafoe and filming commercials with Laurence Fishburne.

Deliberately steering away from all media hot-topics such as fire, flood and Coronavirus, he instead warns us of the dangers of artisanal soap, sings an ode to triangular food and creates his own fundraising campaign for the bad/sad feeling you get when a leg comes off.

Simmons’ trademark is his uncanny ability to elevate weirdness into art. All the standard elements of a Simmons gig are in play – the inventive material, the surreal twist on absurd subject matter, the self-aware commentary on the gig.

As a fan who has rarely missed one of his Fringe performances since 2016, I was excited to see this new show, but perhaps due to the freshness of the material, it felt as though something had just missed the mark. Even so, Simmons’ oddball appeal is unmatched and fans shouldn’t let one slightly disappointing gig stand in the way of appreciating a performer who is such a unique and inimitable voice in Australian comedy.

Sam Simmons – FUNT is at The Factory at The Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 15.

See more Fringe and Festival stories and reviews here.

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