Sam Simmons writes his own revolutionary dictionary in 'A-K'
To pull back the curtain on this whole reviewing caper, there’s enough thoughts and impressions of Sam Simmons’ new show to fill a small notebook – the sum total of which, without context, would likely serve as grounds for psychiatric assessment.
What would any reasonable person make of the phrases, "Knox City escalator to nowhere”, “Vienetta sniper” and “badminton chic” scrawled in biro? Ultimately, these things and many more ideas make up Simmons’ setlist in his brilliant and bizarre new hour, A-K.
Anyone who’s familiar with Simmons knows they’re in for a wild ride here. The casually acquainted to the completely unfamiliar stand to be utterly bewildered by Simmons’ absurdist onslaught, which this year features cruskits, shuttlecocks and non-sequiturs aplenty. He does well to pack a lot inside a single hour, Simmons conducting the stand-up comedy equivalent of a scenic tour.
Essentially, A-K is an exhilarating and unrelenting pinball-esque ricochet from one absurd idea to the next, but it also features interludes of sharp observational comedy. It’s this element that helps elevate A-K from great to excellent. It’s almost as if Simmons refuses to be boxed in by his own brand of nonsense. That’s not to say the observations themselves aren’t wonderfully left-of-field, with Simmons at one point examining the declining popularity of names and buffet restaurants.
But for all the weirdness, there’s relatability, too. So often the best stand-up comedy unlocks ideas and perspectives that, until actually performed, remain just out of reach for audiences. They’re unique little lightbulb moments and, pleasingly, there’s several of them within Simmons’ show.
But that’s likely a deeper reading than most will entertain with A-K. Simmons is one weird cat and that’s going to be the prevailing impression. A-K is a slice of exquisite ridiculousness and anyone with a penchant for the surreal and silly ought to love this show. Part of the fun is emerging from The Forum Theatre afterwards, wondering aloud with a wide smile, 'What the hell did I just watch?'
Of course, Simmons is aware that it’s all quite a lot to take in. “It kind of made sense. To me, anyway,” Simmons declared on this particular occasion, wrapping up for the evening. “I mean, what do you people want?” Honestly, you couldn’t have asked for much more. Highly recommended.
By Nick Mason