Perhaps one of the most overused adages in the English language, ‘truth is stranger than fiction,’ has proven, time and again, to be completely spot-on. It’s also the only way I’d be able to describe, in one sentence, the way Sammy J has managed to seamlessly weave together this spellbinding story. Imagine a school gardener, a certain costumed crime fighter from yesteryear and a fateful Model UN conference that sounds so farcical it needs to be seen to be believed. A trite saying does not do the show justice.
A self-described, ‘skinny man-butterfly effect-coming of age tale,’ Sammy J’s new show, Hero Complex, takes the audience on an autobiographical journey of the comedian’s life – fraught with as much emotion as there is humour and excitement. He downplays the extraordinarily coincidental subject matter of the show in saying, ‘I think everyone has these links in their life. It’s more about stepping back and taking a bird’s eye view of your life.’ Sammy himself admits the show’s reliance on anecdotal evidence, ‘I think the fact that I wrote my diaries for so many years is the key to it all. If I hadn’t done that I assume people would think I’d made everything up, but it’s all there in black and white… or biro and white, rather.’
Although accompanying visual aids make up the bulk of the show, it’s the way Sammy presents them with winsome charm and a splash of cautious confidence make it all the more compelling. ‘It was a weird show to write,’ he explains, likening his role in composing Hero Complex to that of a museum curator rather than a comedian. ‘It was more like a show and tell exercise than anything else.’
In observing his body of work before the arrival of this show, Sammy has always appeared to have adopted a self-titled ‘character,’ of sorts. When asked if Hero Complex differs to anything else he’s ever done, he admits with an air of relief, ‘it’s the first solo show where it’s me being me. It’s amazing how long it’s taken for that to finally be the case.’ On pre-show rituals, he said: ‘If you had vision of me before a show it would probably be the dullest footage possible,’ confessing, ‘the minute I’m relaxed is when I step out onto the stage. That’s when I really start having fun.’
He laments that the tour is coming to an end but insists it’s extremely apt that the final leg of the tour ends up here. ‘Canberra is like another character in the show.’ Hero Complex is an engaging and hilarious study in the absurdity of everyday life and showcases Sammy J’s ability to meld wit and musicianship together to form a comic experience that will have you laughing from beginning to end.