Sam Simmons – Fail [FringeTIX]
Sam Simmons @ Bosco Theater
9:00pm, Sat 13 Feb 2010
As I indicated when I saw last year’s show, Sam Simmons has been an up-and-down performer for me; his Tales from the Erotic Cat were divine, but shows since have been varyingly less so. I don’t think it’s inappropriate, though, to flat-out state that this show is a real return to that form of old.
And that’s a great thing for me to admit, too, since I was extremely pessimistic going in – but mainly because of the crowd with which I was sharing him. The Bosco was packed with people giggling about his JJJ persona, and the entire row of pissed blokes behind me were boorishly shouty pre-show, as Simmons sat at the edge of the crowd eying them up. Thankfully, the boors fell sullenly silent once the show started; did they not understand Simmons’ abstract approach? Were they just wary of their drunken extent? No matter.
The show is presented as, essentially, three different threads: Simmons plays the Fail Quiz inside his own mind, his pre-recorded subconscious asking him all manner of absurd questions. Storybook segments allow him to present different perspectives on a chain of events, continually placing the blame on Vince Vaughn (though Delta Goodrem and Home and Away were other persistent targets on the night). And a slideshow, full of op-shopped family memories with thematically progressive text scratched into them, tied it all together. Then there’s musical interludes and singalongs, the “Carpet or Floor” show, and the list of things that Simmons regards as Failures.
It’s all nonsense. Surreal, absurd, nonsense.
And it’s brilliant.
Sure, Simmons is still working the kinks out of the show; there’s still plenty of times where he snickers and mutters to himself, and the fallback “I don’t even know what that means” remark appears a bit too often for my liking. But the fact that I knew the exact wording of the punchline to his “swear jar” joke endears him to me mightily; suffice to say, this is a show I’d love to see at the end of its run, too, just to see it polished. But that’s not to say I regret seeing it now – hell, no. I loved it.
At the beginning of the show, Simmons alludes to the fact that he was contemplating suicide. Dude, no – you’ve got too much to give us all :)