By Scott Barnett
Sam Simmons certainly lives up to his absurdist label with his new show Shitty Trivia, a surreal hour filled with dangling modifiers, daft physical comedy and imaginative swearing accompanied by politically incorrect hand drawings.
Ambling his way through the crowd whilst narrating a series of comically sad images projected onto a screen; Simmons eases the audience into the odd and darkly silly tone of the show.He revels in the audience’s discomfort and the tangible pressure that builds in the room at the beginning of every joke, with no one knowing quite how it’s going to end. It feels like he’s playing battleships with jokes, though more miss than hit.
Seemingly intent on turning the audience against him, he manages to get people to laugh despite themselves, if a joke doesn’t appear to work (intentionally or not) he reprimands the audience shifting the blame to them. “Fuck you all!” he barks.
Unafraid to get the audience physically involved, the moustachioed comic spots a fellow hairy-faced audience member and forces him to take a sniff of his facial topiary.“What does that smell like?” he asks. “Sperm and regret!” Towards the end an audience member becomes intrinsically part of the show and Simmons is lucky to get such a good sport, he pushes the discomfort on stage to dangerous (albeit funny) levels.
Managing to allay the audience’s fears and discomfort at his casual racism and politically incorrect jokes, he makes clever use of an animated talking piece of meat that admonishes him on stage. They banter back and forth about the shows downfalls and his growing irritation with the audience. At one point he notes: “It’s getting so meta, it’s confusing me.”
Simmons’ style is certainly distinct; the show switches between self-aware non sequiturs and baffling set pieces, throwing everything off kilter. He relishes the creation of an absurd moment or image, making use of props plucked from his green wheelie bin that sits on the stage. Carefully chosen music adds an extra layer of strangeness to the visual, which builds to a climax of epically daft proportions.
While the show does have some semblance of a structure, like scaffolding made from PVA glue and lolly sticks, it falls apart about two thirds of the way through due to technical problems. No one is quite sure whether this is part of the show or not but Simmons battles on regardless holding on to the audience’s attention for dear life.
This is a show that on paper should be strange, incomprehensible and offensive. While it is all of those things, Simmons also creates laughs from nowhere. Like a mad comedy scientist throwing things together and seeing what works live on stage, it feels shaky and precarious at times but is ultimately entertaining.