Sam Simmons & The Precise History of Things [FringeTIX]
Sam Simmons @ Bosco Theater
8:45pm, Sat 12 Feb 2011
I was so keen on seeing this show that I didn’t even mind the packed house in the Bosco; there’s a massive mix of ages in there, and I spot the older couple who were celebrating their wedding anniversary that I’d talked to in the queue. “We’re from Victor, and are just in town for our anniversary… we thought we’d catch a show,” they had told me. “We got tickets to this guy; is he any good?”
I honestly didn’t know what to tell them… but I kept my eye on their responses during the show. She laughed her head off; he frequently had a look of bemused what-the-fuck.
And that was fair enough, really – because Simmons was on song this evening.
Appearing dressed as an astronaut, carrying the Old El Paso Taco Kit that became the bizarre icon of the show, Simmons slow-motions his way onstage while his backing audio explains his dream of delivering said Taco Kit to The Moon. Which is par for the course, really. Doffing the space-suit (after trashing his flip-chart whilst gawking through paper cut-outs symbolising space travel) he reverts to lounge-esque polo shirt, shorts, sock, shoes that don’t want to go on his feet, and a cap covering a bald spot and dodgy comb-over. And a porn-star moustache. A seventies porn-star moustache. This leads to a bit about dodgy child predators, which gets called back when he summons an audience member and, using the power of his audio backing and flip-chart pictures, essentially accuses him of being a cat-hating pedophile.
Like I said, par for the course.
As usual, Simmons has a brilliantly-concocted audio backing – and once again, his sound guy deserves massive props. Audio comes as flourishes and exclamations, or as expository voice-overs that accompany the letter and e-mails that Simmons receives – and answers. These letters form the backbone of Simmons’ set; but it’s the bizarre asides that really make the show work.
The pine-cone family… jesus, that was just absolutely brilliant nonsense. The Continental Alfredo Pasta & Sauce giveaway… “that’s Four Cheeses, you mole.” Harsh, inaccurate, but bloody funny. And the ending, recreating his first Old El Paso Taco Kit experience as an eight-year-old, leading to him obliterating the contents of said kit in… ummm… unorthodox ways… well, it’s just sublime. Odd, but sublime.
Yes, he still snickers to himself, in an attempt to convey the fact that his absurdity freaks even him out; but that is perhaps the only down-side to Sam Simmons’ performance. The show is already running smoothly, and is just wonderful, nonsensical, fun.