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“A broken pub quiz host comes unstuck via tormenting from a haunted meat tray and one golden shoe.”

This is Sam Simmons’ predictably off-kilter summation of his latest show, Shitty Trivia, which comes to Soho this week, and it is absolutely nothing less than we would expect from this Aussie king of the absurd.

Former Triple J DJ turned comedian Simmons has made a name for himself by revelling in the surreal and the preposterous, from making bread shoes on stage and snogging audience members’ knees to throwing out sporadic silly dances, pie charts and non-sequiturs that make your brain fizz as it struggles to keep up. But this new show brings something a little different to the full-on sensory assault that would be expected of Simmons. 

“There’s not as much interaction at all,” he says of Trivia’s structure, shaped as it is around a procession of baffling trivia questions akin to his regular slot on Triple J. Ask a straightforward question, get an obscure and extremely obtuse answer leading to all manner of hilarity, basically. 

“It’s just me with a fistful of jokes trying to interact with a live animated talking meat tray. It’s really difficult. Just when I think I’ve delivered a relatable mainstream show, I’m talking to a meat tray. “He was originally going to be a puppet meat tray, but puppets are like one up from jugglers on the entertainment scale, and that’s still two above comedians.” 

For followers of Simmons, it should come as no surprise that a meat tray takes centre stage in Trivia, continuing a recurring body-food interest that has seen the comic take that which most others would generally eat and apply it in some way or another to himself (in this show, it’s slices of ham to the face).   

But mainstream or not, Simmons has garnered accolades and critical plaudits aplenty since he stepped on to the stage 10 years ago, nabbing the Adelaide Fringe Festival Best Emerging Comedy Award for his 2006 show Tales From The Erotic Cat, and nominated for the Best Comedy award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe two years ago for Meanwhile, which involved shopping trolleys, pine cones and all manner of unexpected happenings. 

“What I do is different and not really comparable to other stuff going on,” he told us in 2011 of his Fringe-nommed show and of his take on comedy in general. 

“I have worked hard to do that, I don’t want to be straight stand-up. I want to do something innovative,” he said. Simmons came to the stage, he says, after “years of fucking around on Triple J where I realised I had written hours’ worth of jokes that were instantly disposed of on radio – I thought they deserved to live within a live show.” 

Where other comedians will take on audiences armed with just a mic and their brand of observational humour, Simmons’ shows are riotous full-throttle prop-laden chaos. 

Written from the finale backwards, Meanwhile had Sam smashing tacos into his torso, and About The Weather’s conclusion featured the show’s signature ‘waving hello’ cats and Simmons attempting to put together an IKEA flatpack live on the stage … obviously. 

“The finale [of Trivia] is ridiculous,” Simmons says of the initial idea that sparked the creation of this year’s show. 

“It’s like a retarded murder mystery in a wheelie bin.” All we can say is, well of course it is.


Talkback


Interview - Sam Simmons: The Aussie comedian and former Triple J presenter on his new oddball comedy show Shitty Trivia
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