Sam Simmons’ comedy functions though a state of permanent chaos. For his latest show he begins by singing his own toilet-based lyrics to Schubert’s 'Ave Maria', in a strained falsetto; later dons an undersized cheerleading costume in "gender solidarity" with his newborn baby girl; and repeatedly reads out loud from an old telephone directory, apparently inspired by a hyperbolic review which described him as so talented "he could read the phone book and still be funny". In between, he veers wildly from awkward paedophilia-based routines to outlandish anecdotes about the actors Willem Dafoe and Richard Dreyfuss, via surreal one liners, abortive audience interactions, and confessionals about his early experiences as a father.
The torrent of ideas is impressive, but would need a qualified systems analyst to unpick. Will the anachronistic phone book emerge, as he claims, to symbolise a more innocent age? Will the fatherhood theme add up to something? Was that a moving expression of Simmons’ new-found feminism since having a daughter, and if so why did he conclude by demanding that the female audience members show him their nipples?
It’s good fun, but not worth the effort to follow. Simmons’ stream-of-consciousness is built on constant tension, with each new thought progressing through conflict. Every moment of sentimentality is immediately undercut, every emerging narrative shut down, every belly laugh traded for an experimental cul-de-sac. The result is dizzying, frequently joyful, and at times frustratingly undercooked. Tracking the chaos is a fun challenge, but the rewards for perseverance are limited.