Musical comedian Sammy J dropped out of a law course at Melbourne university to pursue a career in comedy; and in 2006 won the best newcomer award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
In 2008, he first joined forces with puppeteer Heath McIvor on the musical Sammy J and the Forest of Dreams", which was nominated for the Barry award in Melbourne before going on to runs in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe. They have collaborated on two more shows since then, winning the Barry for their first follow-up, Ricketts Lane, in 2010.
Sammy J Videos
Sammy J: Potentially
How do you prefer your comedy? Straight stand-up, musical, storytelling, lighthearted or heartfelt? Why not just have it all? Sammy J has rammed something for everyone into his show. And despite the sections being clearly defined by changing lighting and a very definite change in Sammy's stage persona, they all meld seamlessly into one truly spectacular hour of comedy.
We open with a voiceover, a children's book is being read out by a delectably soft female Australian accent. We hear about koalas, kangaroos and kookaburras frolicking round Uluru. Sammy J arrives on stage and we quickly find out that this excerpt was taken from a book he had sent to numerous publishers at the age of 11. He goes on to read some feedback from the rejection letters he received and explains that he now knows every story needs a main character and storyline, everything else should be subtext. The main thrust of this hour is the story of Alfie The Possum and we return to readings from Sammy's new venture into the literary world throughout the show.
The tragic tale of the vertigo-muddled marsupial is both heart-wrenching and beautifully written and could sit comfortably in a spoken word or theatre programme, but Sammy J lightens the mood throughout with healthy helpings of top-rate, verbose stand-up with a side-serving of sublime audience banter, mainly directed at the two women squealing like alarmed possums at every gag.
There are musical interludes too, the first of which is deliciously funny, outlining all of the potential things that could happen throughout the duration of the song. This is not just a silly little ditty, Sammy J has carefully crafted every element of the show to appear as subtext next to his Alfie The Possum story. Everything is interlinked and no matter how disparate a possum, a cruise ship, a blimp and a ninja may appear, he manages to weave every thread and aside together in a stunningly nimble way.
Despite this carefully choreographed display of comedic writing, the show still manages to retain a looseness; a chance for Sammy's audience to get to know him and a chance for him to show his skills of making each show individual for the specific crowd in front of him. He is a hugely charismatic performer, despite his controlled and, dare I say it, almost whimsical style. Plus he is teaching us all something from his a wide range of experiences: advice on wrangling wildlife, some history lessons and a vocabulary that would make a Thesaurus blush.
Talking about cheek-reddening words, there is a hint of the Tim Minchin about Sammy J’s anthem to have the word 'fuck' taken off the taboo list. This is not a criticism, it is encouraging to see another Antipodean act take musical comedy a step beyond the ever-so familiar karaoke backing track meets dodgy punchlines staple.
I'll not let on to the fate of the beloved Alfie. Sammy may have pegged the possum as the main character in his story but the true hero is Sammy J himself. This is a unique, beautiful and amazing show which will have you howling with laughter, joining in with a singsong, worrying about ninjas… and you may even shed a tear or two on the way.
Sammy J Dates
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