Zoe Coombs Marr: Dave (4 stars)

This article is from 2015

Zoe Coombs Marr: Dave

A highly accomplished hour which potently attacks both misogyny and bad comedy

With her hair tied back in a ponytail and a drawn-on monobrow and beard, Zoe Coombs Marr somehow passes uncannily for the character she inhabits for the whole show. Dave is every liberal audience’s worst nightmare: a beer-swilling misogynistic Australian with six minutes of material at best and no self-awareness. A larger than life stereotype of the kind of comedy dinosaur that we associate with the 1970s but whose descendants currently litter TV panel shows.

The cognitive dissonance arising from simultaneously watching Dave fumble through a bigoted gag and Zoe expertly portray a character who is ironically telling that gag is interesting. Dave’s jokes are patently unfunny. The distance created by Zoe telling that joke does not make it funny, even as a guilty pleasure. Rather, Dave himself is the target of ridicule, his lack of self-awareness reinforced by Marr’s in her knowing portrayal of Dave’s ilk and as a woman on stage delivering lads-only banter.

There are moments when Dave’s reality becomes less simple and it’s clearly implied that he is only a façade. Marr uses these moments to give depth to the character and avoids merely condemning or vindicating him. Not content with her excoriating depiction of a woman-hating Aussie comic, her lampooning takes in the wider target of all bad stand-ups. She takes to task those staples like banter with the audience and local humour. And there’s a moment of genius with microphone stands.

By setting up Dave to fail on his own terms Marr is able to tackle feminist issues in comedy as well as the depiction and treatment of women in the world at large without once mentioning the word feminism. Very talented and extremely clever, Zoe Combs Marr offers a political show that avoids didacticism, in the end sacrificing trite conclusions and neat parallels for comedy.

Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 30 Aug (not 18), 9.20pm, £9–£11 (£8–£10).

Zoe Coombs Marr: Dave

  • 4 stars

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