Tell us about the show you’re bringing to the Vault Festival, UFO.
UFO is a surrealist comedy performance about space and death and string-theory. I tell it whilst spinning on the spot constantly for an hour inside a spacesuit that has consistently been too well insulated for every venue I’ve been in.
What made you want to write a show about alien abduction?
Because it’s real and the funniest things are funny because they’re true. So in that sense it’s a straight-down-the-line observational comedy show. If you like Mikael Makintosh and Michael Finnegan then this show should resonate with your frequency level. I observe loads of good stuff, like how there are eight dimensions and aliens control the government and they’re putting chips in our brains. It’s good old fashioned noticing-based japes.
What’s the strangest thing you learned about space while writing this show?
It’s made of bees. This fact was only recently discovered by Voyager 1, but actually what we used to think of as a ‘terrifying, endless nothingness stretching away into infinity’ is actually a ‘terrifying, endless tightly packed swarm of bees heading straight for us’. Apparently the real reason that no one can hear you scream in space is because it’s deafeningly loud.
Scientists are now predicting that inside every black hole we’ll find an absolute motherload of honey, and George Lucas is already hard at work re-CGI’ing all the Star Wars films to include millions of bees swarming the camera in all the spaceship scenes. I understand it will be tastefully done.
What’s your trick to understanding secrets about the universe?
Smoke bad drugs. No, not really. I don’t do that. I don’t think I know any secrets about the universe, in the show I am merely relaying facts you might not have heard before. I think when we talk about the universe in more mystical terms we’re looking to learn something about ourselves rather than about the outerworld. If we’re trying to find meaning in it, we’re trying to find intelligence, which means we’re either searching for ourselves, or we’re looking for god. I don’t see much difference between star-gazing and soul-searching in that regard. [Insert joke].
What inspired your surreal comedic style?
A massive burning effigy of the Michelin Tire guy, running at me through my dreamscape every night, screaming in his booming, high-pitched squeal, ‘Sandwiches are the way forward!’.
What do you hope people take away from your show?
The chairs. Audiences are so spoilt by TV comedy they don’t realise that it’s up the performer to provide all the chairs for a gig. That involves sourcing, vetting, and lugging upwards of 50 seats on the tube (the London under-bus) to every venue. When people just get up and walk out at the end of a performance without ripping up and carrying away the chairs, it basically says “Oh, this chair you hand-picked for my arse is not good enough for my home.” You can’t re-use the chairs, so then you have to burn them. It’s a major contributing factor to climate-change and it’s not on me, it’s on them.
Are there any other shows you’re looking forward to at the Vault Festival?
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to break into comedy?
Sam is performing UFO on 5th March.