Sam Simmons’s show is a masterpiece of comedy
If your laughing bits fancy a glorious comedy adventure then take them to see The Incident. Don't expect to understand, just ride the comedy waves. It feels like Sam Simmons and David Quirk have taken Waiting for Godot, added essence of Point Break, a hint of Monty Python, and served it in a cartoon.
Watching it, you feel as if you are in a comedy bubble inside which narrative flow can be achieved solely through the power of funny, even though the individual events on the timeline of the play are almost entirely random: toast, Sarah Michelle Geller, walnut men, fighting, knitting and enthusiastic masturbation, for example. There are even moments of true pathos. I'll bet even Beckett would laugh.
Both writer-performers are comedians in their own right. David Quirk's show is called I Don't Want To Tell Jokes. And he doesn't. Quirk is a quiet, measured, analytical comic. His delivery is like that of a thin, friendly Stewart Lee. He talks about suicide, necrophilia and death quite a lot for an apparently well-balanced bloke, but it is mordantly funny stuff. He is a great lover of words, like "thrush" and "twincest". He is hilariously despairing of the decline of the English language in Australia, with specific reference to the antipodean tendency toward abbreviation, as in "totes" for "totally". He gets quite philosophical too; there aren't many comics I can think of who take Existentialism as the basis for a large part of their set. His solution to the problem of our inability to empathise wholly with another person's experience is radical, dark and hilariously appalling.
Sam Simmons's show is a masterpiece of surreality, silliness and sadness wrapped up in a comedy performance of such passion and complexity that it approaches genius. Simmons is part clown, part wit, part tragedian, part angry not-as-young-as-he-was man. He hates shiny ankles, animals on toilet paper and babies and loves Nandos. He throws bread, thinks about whales and talks to Diane The Very Attractive Cabbage. All the while he is taking part in a TV quiz show, studding his hour with hilariously silly one-liners and arguing with the quizmaster, a recorded voice which, thanks to the brilliance and perfectly disguised precision of Simmons' performance, becomes a quasi-corporeal comedy foil for the increasingly agitated performer.
Add moments of pure stand-up addressing the central theme of the show, which is failure, moments often so raw they take your breath away, and you have an hour that will haunt you forever. Such is the power of Simmons' comic talents that this incredibly technically complicated show never for a second appears tricksy (respect to the technical guys in the Dining Room), the overwhelming humanity of the piece and the open-hearted, sheer funniness of the man makes it all "fit". It is a spellbinding comedy tour de force. If you have any interest in comedy, see this show.
And seeing all three of them could, I can almost guarantee, be the most memorable threesome of your life. As David Quirk would say, I totes recco you do.
Sam Simmons: Fail *****
Gilded Balloon Teviot (VENUE 14)
David Quirk : I Don't Wanna Tell Jokes ***
Assembly @ ASSEMBLY HALL (VENUE 35)
The Incident ****
Assembly @ George Street (VENUE 3)