It’s pretty easy to tick the ‘surreal’ box on a comedy listings description: put a banana in your pocket, you know. Run around shouting about eagles. Put on a bald wig and ill-fitting suit and mispace your punchlines. Surreal is, let’s get real here, a pretty low bar to jump over in comedy.
But to do it properly is tough. Sam Simmons does it properly. The vague outline: Sam Simmons is a flailing light entertainment TV host reading shitty trivia from a series of cue cards. There are the old bait and switch jokes – a question leading to an obvious answer which isn’t actually the answer but you say it out loud anyway and get shouted at. There are the bad ‘Dad jokes’, deliberately fluffed and mistimed. Then he takes his trousers off and starts talking to an animated packet of meat.
It is…weird. But not in a corny, try-hard way. Simmons’ meta, fourth-wall breaking asides – and, crucially, the pacing of the show, Simmons knowing exactly when to hit the audience with a barrage of questions or turn to the screen and talk to some meat or take his trousers off and hug someone on the front row – keeps a smile on your face throughout, even if you’re never exactly sure when to turn that smile into a laugh. It’s a very bizarre hour, but a funny one nonetheless.
Sam Simmons: Shitty Trivia is at Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London, W1D 3NE, until Saturday 24 August. Tickets cost between £10-£20.