An Interview with Sam Simmons

Image result for sam simmons not a people personTell us about your 2016 show, Not a People Person.

I used to be a zoologist, so there’s a lot about animals, maybe how animals are better than humans in some ways. It’s stupid really, lots of banging on about birds. There’s also a bit about euthanasia that makes people uncomfortable, which is great. I’m just having fun. When I’m regionally touring, I get to warm up for myself, which I love. I get to f**k around and let the audience know it’s not gonna be too much of a downer.


Your 2011 show, Fail, centered around suicide. Are deeper themes a bit of a pattern for you?

I guess. I like to get real. But it doesn’t come from anywhere in particular, they always seem to wangle their way in. This show has the most wafer thin of narratives, which should be fun for the audience. Although a lot of people relate to the deeper stuff. I don’t usually like to mine my own life for things, I’m more in the silly camp. But that’s the stuff that people connect with the most.


Do you think suicide and mental health issues should be discussed more openly?

Yes. Especially with young men – there’s a real endemic. There’s a problem in rural Australia, there’s a problem here as well.


Did you find it therapeutic to discuss it on stage?

No, not really. I never feel great mining my personal life on stage, there’s better things to do, like talking to the audience. It can’t be self-involved or where’s the line gonna be drawn? Eventually someone’s just gonna go on stage with a gun to their head. I reckon I’ve got enough silly jokes to keep the audience from thinking ‘Here he goes, on and on about his mental state’.


Your 2011 Ted Talk about being silly featured a brilliant rant. Do you get worked up quite easily?

Yeah, trivial things really annoy me. People say don’t sweat the small stuff, but I like to sweat the small stuff, cause then when the big stuff happens you can handle it. I’m terrible in a small crisis but I’m great in a crisis crisis. But I do love a rant.


How would you describe your humour?Image result for sam simmons

Very silly. I’m not political. I love silly s**t. I’m editing my set for Live at the Apollo at the moment and it’s a very silly set, there’s nothing too serious in it.


Who’s your favourite comedian?

I love Romesh Ranganathan, he’s amazing. I adore him. Also Tim Vine. They’re my favourite British comedians.


Do you get many comparisons to Jim Jeffries?

No – we’re just Australian. He’s more politically inclined. He likes to get a reaction from people. I like being silly. I just love a rant. There’s nothing funnier than an irate person.


I heard you’re working on a sitcom at the moment?

Yeah. I’m working on three! But everything’s embargoed so I can’t give you the scoop.


Three at once. Impressive.

Yeah, for three different countries.


Is that information embargoed too?

No, its one in the UK, one for America and one for Australia.


Are they all going to be different?

Yeah. The one is the UK is about my past as a zookeeper, the one in Australia is about my mum, and the one in the US is just silly.


How different do you find the processes of writing stand-up and writing for TV?

Stand-up you can trial straight away to find out if it works or not. With TV I need help. I haven’t learned how to do it, but I’m learning and I’m getting better.



Clogs recently put out an article about national senses of humour. What do you think about the idea?

The Brits have got that absurdity, but they’ve also got that political edge in Stewart Lee and co.  America’s more brash and abrasive but they have some beautiful satire – probably the best satire – and Australians are more laconic and self effacing. There’s definitely national identities. The Canadians and New Zealanders are quite kooky.


Do these identities play into the writing of your sitcoms at all?

No. The Australian one’s a little bit more grown up.  In the UK one, I’m not playing up to Britishness as such, but it’s gonna have very integral, very British cast. I’m trying to put my own style into all of them.

Not a People Person is coming to the Cube, Bristol, on the 21st October. Buy your tickets here.


Sam Toller

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