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Sam Simmons: About The Weather

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

No one would ever describe Sam Simmons as an ordinary, mundane man. Yet that’s the role the manic absurdist starts out playing in this alleged play – a jaded wage slave who takes the same boring bus to the same boring job, avoiding the same boring small talk every boring day of the boring week. Then he returns to his lonely home where he struggles each night to erect an Ikea coffee table.

But it’s not as simple as that… his febrile imagination has him lusting after a girl on the bus, in conversation with the neighbourhood cat and at war with the local seagulls – all set to a soundtrack of cheesy Nineties dance tracks and overblown vintage advertising jingles.

Yes, there’s a lot going on here, and that’s without even mentioning the audience participation – or ‘molestation bordering on the criminal’ as it should be more accurately described.

Yet this disjointed, frenzied barrage of activity seems strangely forced. Although very similar in style to last year’s surreal mish-mash Meanwhile, which earned the moustachioed weirdo nominations for both the Barry and the Edinburgh Comedy Award, About The Weather seems to have less purpose  and more set pieces that are simply odd for odd’s sake.

A taped narration makes some attempt to hold this all together, but while the device is a useful scene-setter – especially when Simmons embarks on an argument with the unseen voiceover – as an ever-present guide, it becomes frustrating; more a barrier between the action and the audience as well as giving the lie to any illusion all this madness is a collection of random brain droppings and spontaneous outbursts of rage.

The hour isn’t short of funny moments – several of the prop-based shenanigans are especially silly – but they seem isolated, despite the efforts to string them into some sort of warped narrative. And behind all the wilful weirdness and carefully scripted madness are some musings on mortality and wasted days that swing between the morbid and the surprisingly jaunty.

This barrage of insanity is a much trickier genre to master than straight stand-up, and Simmons’ attempts to embrace the insanity are intriguing, if inconsistent.

Review date: 12 Apr 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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