When it comes to acting, comedian Sam Simmons prefers to go off-script.
In the second season of ABC’s car-pool comedy, Squinters, he’s done just that.
“I can’t help myself sometimes, it’s the stand-up comedian in me that wants to improvise,” he tells TV Tonight.
“Some people hate it but I find I give a much more naturalistic performance if I can be in the moment.
“Trent O’Donnell is my go-to director now. He lets me muck around with the script, I annoyingly go off script a lot but he encourages that, which frustrates (creator) Adam Zwar. Adam is very particular about the word, which I really respect.
“There’s a reason why Trent is one of the top comedy directors in the country at the moment -if not the top. He’s a quiet guy but he comes up with so many crazy things.”
In the ABC comedy Simmons plays gay man Lukas who travels to and from work at Aussie distribution company ‘Kosciusko’, joined by his Aunty Alison (Genevieve Morris) and sister (Claudia O’Doherty).
But he also has a crush on tradie (Bert LaBonte). In the studio-based shoot, he draws inspiration for his character from his truck-driving half-brother, to avoid stereotypes.
“I’m way gayer than my brother and I’m straight. I thought it was an interesting way of making sure the character wasn’t cliché,” he explains.
“You have to watch what you’re doing and make sure you don’t mess up your turns. It’s not green screen, but you do have vision of the road outside to match what you’re doing.
“The commute is a lot of our lives. So it’s the minutiae of travel and life.”
Season 2 sees the return of Mandy McElhinney, Andrea Demetriades, Justin Rosniak, Rose Matafeo, along with new cast Kristen Schaal, Stephen Peacocke, Justine Clarke, Anne Edmonds, Lamorne Morris and Ernie Dingo.
Simmons also recently appeared in Zwar’s other comedy Mr Black. Although he is loving the acting, he hates watching his own performance afterwards.
“No. I can’t stand it, but I know that I have to sometimes,” he admits.
“I read recently Joaquin Phoenix has not seen anything he has filmed, which I love!
“I dunno, this is a stupid job. I used to be a zoo keeper so this is all exciting to me. But I love acting. I’ve been developing stuff for years. I do a lot of writing for stuff overseas. I love the challenge of acting and it’s nice to be taken seriously.
“I had to hold my own against Jacki Weaver and I did watch that, because I was quite nervous.”
He’s also discovering a growing fan-based of older viewers who appreciate his absurd humour.
“I think I remind them of The Goon Show or Monty Python, which is so nice. I’m not a savvy tell-you-how-it-is comic, I’m more a silly, weird guy. So a lot of little old ladies come up to me, but so do the inner-city hipster kids. So it’s 30 -50 year old men who don’t like me! I think they find me a bit too silly, and maybe even effeminate. Which I like.”
Simmons even has plans for a narrative comedy of his own.
“I have one in development with FX in the States about two men who discover an exotic fruit. And I’m also developing a script about euthanasia with Trent O’Donnell for the States as well.
It’s a euthanasia travel centre. You go to them and they give you your final life experience.
“It’s very stupid!”
Squinters screens 9pm Wednesday on ABC.