Tom Simmons: The Ultimate Contrarian
Find a sacred cow and comedian Tom Simmons will gut it and serve it for dinner. He’s got material criticizing patriotism, supporting Tiger Woods, even lampooning Martin Luther King Jr. for his infidelity. He actually does those last two in the same joke.
“All I care about is Tigers golf,” Simmons says in his act, holding back his trademark smirk.
“Martin Luther King Jr was famous for cheating on Coretta, does that make his message invalid just cause a couple of his dreams were wet ones?”
Simmons has an uncanny ability to find something that the rest of the world agrees with only to prove them wrong. His logic is methodical and relentless, which makes him impossible to beat.
That’s especially difficult since he argues with just about everything. He even argued with me when I told him he was argumentative. Really, that happened.
I asked him why he talks politics in his act so often. He said that even though people tell him that constantly, he doesn’t feel it’s true. I asked him how he feels about being a “comic’s comic,” and he said that phrase “seems to be a nice way of saying that crowds don’t really agree.”
I even asked him about his success, and he said he’s not successful. This is the same guy who won the prestigious San Francisco International Comedy Competition - a competition that has seen Robin Williams, Kevin Pollack, Ellen DeGeneres, Mark Curry, Nick DiPaolo, Marc Maron, and Dane Cook all finish second.
“I remember feeling like if I could work the road and make $500 a week I would be a huge success,” Simmons said. “My goals are higher than that now. I try to make $650.”
And while Simmons is kidding about the dollar value of his act, it’s a great example of what he does on stage. Simmons finds something the sheeple of the world have accepted, turns it on its head with an exaggeration, and shows the audience why they should wake up and agree.
“Ultimate success for me will be if my son can go back through my comedy CDs and be proud of what I did and said as a comedian and a man,” said Simmons.
“He of course has that kind money to throw around because his daddy will have made buckets of it selling out theatres touring off his HBO specials.”
Simons is constantly twisting the world around him, causing everyone else to doubt what they previously defined as truth. But ask Simmons about being a professional contrarian, and he humbly won’t accept the premise of the question.
“I haven’t turned pro yet,” said the comedian with five live albums and multiple television appearances. “I just sorta picked up a stage or a gig here or there, lived out of my car occasionally and slowly built places that would let me get on stage.”
Every year, those stages grow. And every year, new crowds are finding out what comedians have already known for years - that Tom Simmons is a tremendously funny comic.
I dare you to disagree.
Steve Hofstetter is an internationally touring comedian that has been on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, E! True Hollywood Story, and more.
See more interviews at OnComedians.com