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Sam Simmons

Sam Simmons
Sam Simmons

With a recent appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show, Sam Simmons (comedian and total windsurfing legend – perhaps not the latter) may be on the cusp of big things. Instead he will be  “…blown out to sea suffering a mid-life crisis” for your entertainment at the Perth International Comedy Festival. Before this inevitable tragedy happens X-Press had a chance to catch up with him.

This upcoming windsurfer accident is of course part of Simmons’ show, Death Of A Sails-man. “A man, loosely based on myself, is forced to have an existentialist mid life crisis on a windsurfer. It’s just dumb, windsurf culture versus culture elite. I was trying to channel a bit of 1980s Peppermint Grove in Perth into the narrative with my weirdo protagonist.”

With audience participation a consistent part of his show, Simmons has had to develop the ability to read the crowd. “It’s really important, choose your targets wisely, I look for a kind face. Overenthusiastic volunteers are the worst – you have to have a bit of reluctance to really get into it. The more awkward the exchange, the funnier it is.”

It’s a skill that has been a combination of trail and error and instinct. “You just have to trust your gut. It’s gone wrong only a handful of times in hundreds of shows. The best worst was the time I unknowingly pulled up Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) from Game Of Thrones. He was way too famous for people to concentrate.”

Simmons’ style of comedy that has been described as absurdist, a term which he is not overly partial to. Instead he prefers to think of it as honest. “I think being silly and finding the ridiculous in the mundane is a lot more real than being negative or snarky about life, then wrapping it up in stand up. I do enjoy confessional stand up, but for me, being a dickhead just seems to work.”

As for what attracted him to comedy initially, “I fell into it by accident. I adore it. I love presenting an idea that I feel no one has done before, I love risk and I love finding a funny moment in something totally unexpected verging on mundane.” With his first big break coming from being a Triple J announcer, Simmons managed to transition to stand up, but he still manages to use some of the skills he acquired in those days. “I use a lot of audio in my shows. It suits my style of comedy to over complicate with music and sound.

  “I have had three big breaks in my time.: Triple J and then finding a wide audience, then being nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award which is The Oscars of live comedy, I finally felt validated internationally and getting on Conan in the US. All have given me the confidence to stick to my guns and retain my individuality. The Conan appearance has made me realise this is real now. I’m back to live in the states after May and I have lots of opportunities to chase, I’m in a great position, I’m writing better than I ever have before, my head looks stupid and I’m ready to get weird.

DAVID O’CONNELL.

Sam Simmons performs Death Of A Sails-man at The Astor theatre this Friday, May 2. For tickets and info, go to perthcomedyfest.com.au.