Simon Evans, The Work of the Devil

September 2, 2021 by

Simon Evans’ postponed dates have been rescheduled again with tickets for he Work of the Devil on sale.

Simon’s last tour, Genius 2.0, provided a comedic 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.

Simon Evans  has a loyal fan base who greatly appreciate his 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.

After twenty years of watching one of the country’s most erudite, well-loved and downright funny comedians, Simon Evans’s fans could be excused for thinking they know who is and what he’s about. Dry, teasingly non-PC and openly baffled by much of modern life – not to say his own family – Evans has created a strongly defined on-stage persona that has served him well over that time.

But almost incredible 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 also his most engaging, audiences reporting that tears of laughter mingled at the end with stronger currents of emotion.

“It’s an unusual show for me in that regard,” he says. “Because the message of the show – almost beyond my conscious control – has become one that is genuinely heart-warming and uplifting, rather than just another weary sigh at society’s collapsing values and so on. And honestly, I couldn’t be happier. The subject matter, the show itself and audience reaction to it – it’s no exaggeration to say that it had a positive effect on my mental health, just performing it every night.”

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 – scrutinising identity politics and resurgent Nationalism, subjecting them to my usual piggy-eyed scrutiny and scepticism. But then we move through a gradual shift of perspective as I approach the Big Reveal – 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’.”

Adams intends the theory to relate to technology, but Evans wonders if it is becoming relevant to our relationship with political and social change too now. Everything from changing family structures to geo-political transformations are creating a world that Evans initially feels requires a healthy dose of his good old fashioned, robust common sense. But then comes the big surprise, as Evans virtually whips the rug away from under his own feet.

Tempting though it is to drop clues, the show will be that much more rewarding for those who have no idea what is coming. But satisfyingly, it does follow on organically from some of the loose ends that were left at the end of Genius 2.0.

“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, and at a younger age than I would suggest that was inevitable. 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.

Evans has taken an original and at times counter-intuitive route to his current status as one of the most reliable and thought-provoking stand-ups in the country. Alongside appearances in Live at the Apollo and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, and six national tours, have been five series of Simon Evans Goes To Market, his comedy lectures for BBC Radio Four on the Economics of Everything. It’s partly Evans’ determination to do comedy that’s about something which marks him out from the pack.

And Simon is also finding that his stand-up is, to paraphrase an old ad, hitting a spot that other comedians cannot reach. “What I’m gradually realising is that while my views may not have changed that much, the world has shifted underneath me, and I’m now something of an outlier. There seems to be more of a political consensus among comedians than ever before, for want of a better word, and half the country is struggling to find their voice heard; what has happened, of course, is Brexit. It has polarised the nation, and the overwhelming majority of comedians seem very comfortable expressing their Remain views and I do feel that I’m getting an audience which is looking for a break from all that. Not that I’m pro-Brexit exactly, but ironically, I have preached a lot more tolerance for a wider range of views, even though I’ve made my career in character as the most intolerant old bugger you can imagine.”

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.



Wednesday, 19th May 2021 Wimborne Tivoli Theatre

Thursday, 20th May Leicester The Y Theatre

Sunday, 6th June Sheffield The Leadmill

Friday, 16th July Bath Widcombe Social Club (Festival)

Wednesday, 11th August North Berwick Fringe by the Sea

Saturday 14th –
Sunday 22nd August Edinburgh Fringe Festival Assembly George Square Gardens

Thursday, 2nd September Cirencester Sundial
Friday, 3rd September Banbury The Mill Arts Centre

Saturday, 4th September Leeds The Wardrobe

Tuesday, 7th September Cheltenham Town Hall (Pillar Room)

Thursday, 9th September Taunton Brewhouse

Friday, 10th September Swindon Arts Centre

Saturday, 11th September Otley Courthouse

Sunday, 12th September London Leicester Square Theatre

Thursday, 16th September Twickenham The Exchange

Friday, 17th September Christchurch The Regent

Sunday, 19th September London Leicester Square Theatre

Wednesday, 22nd September Lincoln New Theatre Royal

Thursday, 23rd September Colchester Arts Centre

Saturday, 25th September Millom The Beggar’s Theatre

Sunday, 26th September (5pm and 8pm shows merged to 8pm) Newcastle upon Tyne The Stand

Wednesday, 29th September Sudbury Quay Theatre

Saturday, 9th October Kettering Arts Centre

Thursday, 14th October Andover The Lights

Friday, 15th October Andover The Lights

Saturday, 23rd October Saffron Walden Town Hall

Thursday, 28th October High Wycombe Old Town Hall

Friday, 29th October Bakewell Town Hall

Saturday, 30th October Richmond, N. Yorks Georgian Theatre Royal

Thursday, 4th November Bognor Regis Regis Centre

Wednesday, 10th November Salford The Lowry

Thursday, 11th November Darwen Library Theatre

Friday, 12th November Chorley Theatre

Friday, 19th November Monmouth Savoy Theatre

Saturday, 20th November Exeter Corn Exchange

Saturday, 27th November Bordon Phoenix Theatre

Saturday, 29th January 2022 Newport,
Isle of Wight Medina Theatre

Friday, 4th February Tunbridge Wells Trinity Theatre

Thursday, 10th February Redruth Regal Theatre

Thursday, 24th February Milton Keynes The Stables

Saturday, 26th February Worcester Huntingdon Hall

Wednesday, 2nd March Barnard Castle The Witham

Thursday, 3rd March Alnwick Playhouse

Friday, 4th March Hexham Queens Hall

Saturday, 5th March Northallerton The Forum

Friday, 11th March Barton-upon-Humber The Ropewalk

Saturday, 12th March Leek Foxlowe Arts Centre

Friday, 18th March Chesham The Elgiva

Sunday, 20th March Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms

Thursday, 31st March Carmarthen Lyric Theatre

Friday, 1st April Cardigan Theatr Mwldan

Saturday, 23rd April Workington Carnegie Theatre

Friday, 29th April Barnsley The Lamproom Theatre

Saturday, 30th April Loughborough Town Hall

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