Now that there is light at the end of the tunnel, Simon Evans’ postponed dates have been rescheduled again. The Work of the Devil marches on, and tickets are on sale.
Simon’s last tour, Genius 2.0, provided a hilarious analysis of the departure of any visible sign of intelligence from modern life. But his new show raises the stakes, with his usual excoriating views of a world on fire – given a perspective shift due to personal revelations that have recently turned his world upside down. In 2019, Evans adapted to unexpected personal revelations of a quite extraordinary nature, and used them to re-examine his entire 23-year career in comedy to date. And in so doing he has, in the words of Chortle’s Jay Richardson, “Exceeded what seemed to be his full potential”.
Simon Evans is one of the country’s best-loved stand-up comedians, with a loyal fan base who greatly appreciate his intelligent and independent scrutiny of the modern world. His tongue-in-cheek, often rueful attachment to traditionalism, and his scepticism towards the claimed achievements of progressive politics and modernist aesthetics, have set him apart from many of his contemporaries. As well as making him a firm favourite on the usual platforms – Live at the Apollo, the Edinburgh Festival and the corporate circuit in particular – these qualities allow him to provide much-needed latitude and offer a diversity of views on TV and radio programmes, from BBC One’s Question Time to Radio 4’s The News Quiz. He has also written and presented five series of the groundbreaking economics/comedy hybrid Simon Evans Goes to Market, also for Radio 4.
Brian Donaldson speaks to Simon Evans…
After twenty years of watching one of the country’s most well-loved and downright funny comedians, Simon Evans’s fans could be excused for thinking they know who he is and what he’s about. Dry, teasingly non-PC and openly baffled by much of modern life – Evans has created a strongly defined on-stage persona that has served him. But revelations about his true identity left him reeling – and have made his newest tour show, The Work of the Devil, by far his most memorable, eye-opening and thought-provoking work to date.
“It’s an unusual show for me in that regard,” he says. “Because the message of the show has become one that is genuinely heart-warming and uplifting.”
It’s a very different kind of vibe to his last show, Genius 2.0, about the effect that “dumbing down” has had on everything from our political culture to our kids.
“It starts in a similar vein – scrutinizing identity politics and resurgent nationalism, subjecting them to my usual piggy-eyed scrutiny and skepticism. But then we move through a gradual shift of perspective as I approach the news I received that throws literally everything I’ve said in the show – and arguably as a comedian, ever – into a dramatic new light.”
The title of the show – The Work of The Devil – comes from Evans’ comedic hero, Douglas Adams.
“It’s from one of his unpublished, unfinished passages for Dirk Gently – a theory about the three different stages of progress in everyone’s life. Firstly, there’s what existed before you were born and until the age of about 12 or 13: with me, I grew up accepting that television, for instance, simply existed. Then there are things which
are invented in our late teens and 20s which are exciting innovations that offer us opportunities to experience the thrills our parents never knew. For me, again, computers, digital watches, and arguably sandwich toasters. And then there are things which arrive from our mid-30s onwards, by which point we can no longer keep up with change and which we therefore denounce as the work of the devil. Any innovation that arrives after that point leaves you saying ‘You mark my words – no good will come of this’.”
“Part of the inspiration for Genius 2.0 was my sense that my own intelligence, memory, focus, reaction times and so on were all in steep decline. I did routines about it that got laughs of recognition, but at the back of my mind I had a niggling doubt that this was beyond normal deterioration. It was my investigation into that which yielded the new information which birthed this show.
The joy of any Simon Evans stand-up show is to watch a comic at the peak of his powers dissecting big ideas and exploring complex notions while finding great jokes within it all. The Work of The Devil, however, delivers all that – plus the most incredible true story, one that brings a completely new dimension to stand-up comedy and which will stay with you for a very long time.
|Saturday, 4th September||Leeds||The Wardrobe||www.thewardrobe.co.uk|
|Saturday, 11th September||Otley||Courthouse||https://otleycourthouse.org.uk|
|Wednesday, 10th November||Salford||The Lowry||https://thelowry.com|
|Thursday, 11th November||Darwen||Library Theatre||darwenlibrarytheatre.com|
|Friday, 12th November||Chorley||Theatre||https://chorleytheatre.com|