Win Tin­sel­town, no prob­lems

Sam Simmons is a quirky guy, and LA is lap­ping him up, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - WEDNESDAY EXTRA -

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.’’

9pm, ABC1.

Wed­nes­days,

Sam Simmons.

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