Sam Simmons is an Aussie icon. At the very least he’s the Aussie wingdings font. As myself and a few hundred other patrons made ourselves comfortable in the Chaser’s ‘Giant Dwarf’ studio in Redfern, the man made no attempt to hide himself, strolling back and forth between the sound desk and indoor bar in little more than a bathrobe, doing vocal warm ups at the top of his lungs and greeting people. An air of mystery is hard to cultivate when you’re in plain sight and scantily-clad, but Simmons still achieves it while at the same time looking like a pervy masseuse.
The music stops, the lights dim, and the ethereal floating head of Simmons makes his way down the aisle, head lit up, staring at the audience.
I don’t want to spoil the show for people that haven’t seen it, but there are things I feel I can mention without ruining the narrative. The sight of a grown man dousing himself in breakfast cereal, gloriously destroying vegetables over an unsuspecting audience, chatting about jeans, it’s all captivating, even if it doesn’t sound it. That opening scene with the Fruit Loops is indescribably manic, yet you can’t look away.
This is the fifth or sixth time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Sam live, so I consider myself well-versed when it comes to what to expect. It doesn’t astound me to see people at his show with looks of confusion on their face, and it was obvious this was the first time some of the audience had witnessed a performance like this – but the man himself seems to revel in these people the most.
Despite the mania, I haven’t seen a Simmons show that lacked a very distinct narrative. Spaghetti for Breafast struck me as different because the multiple ‘components’ of the show seemed to run more parallel to each other than being intricately intertwined. Perhaps I was laughing too much. He jumps between them seamlessly enough to disorient people if they aren’t paying attention – but that’s OK, because he commands it.
He takes you from insanely abstract, hypnotic parts like untangling an extension cord to the tune of a 90s dance anthem, straight to subjects like corporate ownership in the blink of an eye – and then suddenly we’re back into a hilarious, constant list of ‘things that shit me’.
All of the obscurity aside, there is a larger underlying theme to the show, and the name is apt.
On the surface, and perhaps to children, the idea of ‘Spaghetti for Breakfast’ seems a bit fun, a bit silly, it’s something you can laugh at.
Now consider the reality of eating Spaghetti for Breakfast, TINNED spaghetti, particularly if you AREN’T a child. There’s a not-so-subtle element of sadness and poverty.
Beneath the madness is the story of a man who has had it tough. The stories that he shares from his childhood probably wouldn’t be found funny at all if they weren’t being told by a comedian standing on the stage, but they are. He’s not here for our sympathy.
Sam also shares his thoughts on modern day comedy, and he couldn’t be more right.
Of all the Simmons shows I’ve seen I can’t remember one that actually ends with him putting more clothes ON.
The ‘conventional’ stand up he attempts to deliver at the end shows you both why he’ll never be ‘conventional’ and why that’s such a good thing. You look at the ‘comedians’ on television and the bigger stages and so much of it is the same. They might come from different angles but it’s generally safe, topical drivel. I don’t want to hear some fuckwit on the ABC talking about Tony Abbott, and pseudo intellectuals who are actually pretty much failing at life about why ‘rape joke’ is a contradiction in terms. We’ve forgotten what made so much great comedy great, so much of it has become bland and repetitive.
There’s a difference between topical humour and personal humour, but I’ve seen comedians try to frame a personal story within a topical context. It might be enjoyable, sure, but it’s filled with tropes and you see it as ‘their take’ on a particular style of story. Sam Simmons forsakes all of that and gives us something that looks so fucking weird on the surface but we come to understand is deeply personal.
The other part of the finale involves some pretty serious layering in the most random and hilarious way. An edible babushka of awesome.
There’s a deeply personal element to most Simmons shows, but this one went a bit further, a bit darker. I’m not sure whether people knew he was telling a true story involving margarine or just thought he was trying to be funny, but he shares it nonetheless. The world might never have known Sam Simmons unique brand of comedy, but I and many others are eternally grateful that young Sam stuck around.
At the end of the show he left a message for people who didn’t seem to get where he was going: like the food you didn’t like as a child, you’ll probably develop an appreciation for it in 5 or so years.
By then, the mainstream comedy world will no doubt be more bland than ever. Charlie Pickering will probably still have a show on the ABC and the god-awful Project will still be on, espousing leftist views under the premise of ‘comedy’. When that happens you’ll finally start to realise the true value a weirdo like Sam Simmons can provide. I’m not saying there aren’t be good comedians out there, there always will be, but few of them will ever be as unique as Sam Simmons.
And Sam’s TV show ‘problems’ STILL won’t be out on DVD.
Spaghetti for Breakfast is STILL RUNNING at Giant Dwarf THIS FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY. You really, REALLY should go and see it. BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE!