Win Tinseltown, no problems
Sam Simmons is a quirky guy, and LA is lapping him up, writes
OLLYWOOD, home of the fake tan, the fake body and the fake smile. And next year, home to Sam Simmons. That’s not a misprint.
A visit to this year’s Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival led to the Antipodean king of quirk pulling in some top-notch LA contacts. So he ducked down for a visit.
‘‘I thought I’d hate the place but I loved it,’’ he muses.
‘‘I’m not mutton dressed as lamb, I’m not trying to look younger or dying my hair and thinking I’m going to go conquer anywhere – I look like I do, I’m bald, I’m weird-looking, but they’re into it and they don’t want me to change things.
‘‘I was taking meetings with NBC and ABC and they are all very positive people because they’re from Hollywood, but they were all really enthusiastic, so I’m going to go and sit over there for a few months with my director on this show.’’
That would be Trent O’Donell, of Woodley, Laid and Hamster Wheel fame, who is directing Simmons in his upcoming TV comedy series Problems, which Simmons wrote and stars in, alongside a bunch of fellow-travelling Aussie comics (including veteran Anthony Morgan) drafted into the project by Simmons.
And he’s so fired up, he’s keen to take next year off from festival touring to make the most of it. ‘‘I really like the telly stuff and it’s time to bring (my work) to that arena,’’ he says.
The series debuts with Problems – Taco Night which sees Simmons convinced the seasoning mix in his favourite prepackaged tacos has been changed. Setting off to get some answers, he fantasises man on the box Dr Mexico lives in a cornbased wonderland but the reality is something else.
Meanwhile the Moths (Susie Porter and Gary Sweet) down the back of Sam’s couch are locked in a loveless marriage. Claudia O’Doherty attempts to convince people to buy fantasy portraits of themselves as an ‘‘accountant of the future’’. Morgan (Anthony Morgan) and Mooney (Lawrence Mooney) wonder how much hair is too much hair to be growing off your block of cheese, and Dave (Dave Quirk) at Mall Bargains reveals himself as one of the country’s foremost googly eyedgumnutman makers.
Simmons is also touring his show About The Weather. While it is similar to previous outings, there are some big differences.
‘‘It’s a straight narrative, it’s quite romantic and it’s gentle and it’s funny in a gentle way,’’ he says. ‘‘I think I’ve written a chick flick with this one.
‘‘It’s basically a bus crush; it’s me getting on a bus and having a whole dialogue in my head about what a girl on the bus thinks about me, and it also involves an Ikea flat-pack coffee table.’’
Ah yes, there it is. A narrative it might be, but About The Weather is pure surreal Simmons. So anyone who enjoys the sight of Simmons monstering the likes of taco shells won’t be disappointed.
‘‘It’s just what I find funny, it’s what comes naturally, it’s not like I’m going, ‘Ohhh, how can I make this weirder’, but it’s got all those things I’ve been dealing with for the past few years – food abuse and all that sort of stuff,’’ he says.
But taking a break next year – despite a stellar few years here and abroad including some five-star Edinburgh reviews and nomination for the coveted best comedy award in 2011 – will also allow Simmons the luxury of rebooting his own approach to live work.
‘‘I feel like this is the last time I’ll head in that direction for a while,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s just time to evolve what I’m doing. I can’t do weird shit with food for much longer. I’m looking forward to the next stage of my live stuff and working out what to do with it.’’