Style and Paranoia with Sam Simmons

I spoke to a hungover Sam Simmons in late January, at the end of his Melbourne Fringe run. At the time, his show for Adelaide wasn’t quite done. “It’s not that hard, I mean, there’s a lot there. Over the year, I write whatever observational kind of humour at home, and then I culminate it into a whole.”

“It’s probably a bit late to be writing a show for Adelaide, but it feels nice. I’ve got ample time to work on it. But I don’t know what it is yet,” said Simmons. “We’ll wait and see. I might just read the phone book.”

In January, the 4-part BBC Radio 4 show Sam Simmons Is Not A People Person told the tale of a birdwatcher and a documentarian distracted by a string of surreal obstacles. It also brought Simmons back together with producer Craig Schuftan, a comrade from his early days at Triple J.

Reuniting with Schuftan “was really really good”, says Simmons. “He lives in Berlin now, so he came over and we recorded the show together, and he helped me structure and write the thing, and he then mixed and edited that on satellite from Berlin, so it was quite an international effort. It was great to be back working with him again. Did feel like I was going backwards a little bit, I felt like we explored all those ideas a long time ago, but it was just nice to work with him because he’s a gentleman and he’s a genius with sound.”

“It was just a fun thing to do. Radio’s very different over there, it’s about sitting around and listening to the radio – it’s really quite backward – but to do something kinda surrealised and fun was great. Also the voice talent in there, they’re people I really respect and like, so it was cool working with all those people. It was just really fun.”

[On his 2012 TED Talk "Being Silly"]: is it as important to be silly in 2017?

SS: All that fear stuff’s always been around. There’s a film I recommend you watch called Network, which is 40 years old, and basically when you watch that you’re like, oh my god, it’s exactly the same climate as right now. It’s just always like this, we’re always paranoid thinking things are getting worse and worse and worse, and you know, Islamophobia and all that type of stuff, it’s all the same – ‘ooh he’s going to fight’ – it’s just we live longer now because we don’t contract all the diseases.

[On being a fashionable gent]: any fashion tips for the Adelaide Fringe?

SS: I think the jockey look is in. You know like, when you watch the Adelaide Cup or the Melbourne Cup, the little jockeys wear silks? Well – the horses are wearing the jockeys. So I’m going to say, I’m going to wear a little guy wearing silks. That’s my style tip.

Sam Simmons' show A-K can be caught at The Garden of Unearthly Delights 6th March - 19th March, except for Monday 13th, which is probably unlucky or something.