Saturday, February 14, 2015
Al Simmons’ one-man, multi-prop, music-filled, off the wall performances have elevated audiences world-wide to collective giggles and all-out guffaws. At once childlike in its simplicity and sophisticated in its execution, Al’s humour touches a responsive chord in people of every age.
Vaudeville’s half-century run of popularity may have died back in the 1940’s, but don’t try to tell that to Al Simmons or the crowds of fans that have packed theatres across North America to see him. In the entertainment business since 1970, the popular Manitoba-based children’s performer is likely Canada’s most versatile comedian. He puts on a funfest, full of bizarre gadgets, wild costumes, unique songs, crazy vaudeville-inspired routines and of course bad puns.
It’s as if he was genetically engineered for comedy. From his distant Romanian and Scottish ancestors Al has inherited a quick wit, lanky legs, large flipper like feet and a rubber face. His father, a charismatic magazine salesman and would be performer, spent many hours telling tall tales and re-enacting old vaudeville routines in their living-room. Al’s Mom taught the budding young vaudevillian the genteel art of punning, silly songs and magic tricks. But the most important thing that his parents taught him was how to use his talents to do good and bring happiness to the world without hurting anyone.
Al’s debut album “Something’s Fishy at Camp Wiganishie” earned a Juno nomination for best Children’s Album. His follow up recording was a brilliant ode to vaudeville, “Celery Stalks at Midnight”. It won the 1995 Juno Award and the 1996 U.S. Parents’ Choice Award. “The Truck I Bought From Moe”, his third album, garnered a Juno nomination and a Parents’ Choice Award. He is an author; “Counting Feathers,” his illustrated children’s book, was short-listed for the McNally-Robinson Book of the Year in 1997. He received a coveted Cable Ace Award nomination for his music video “I Collect Rocks,” which is also the title track of his brand new DVD that contains 6 of his wacky music videos and features his Horse-cycle “Ol’ Spoke”.