Zoe Coombs Marr: Trigger Warning (4 stars)

This article is from 2016

Zoe Coombs Marr: Trigger Warning

A postmodern tour de force and vibrant assault on misogyny from classy Aussie act

Australian comedian Zoe Coombs Marr first brought her oafish alter ego Dave to last year's Fringe. Created in response to poor comedy in general and misogynistic stand-up in particular, Dave is a vulgar concoction who spews offensive jokes at his audience. It's very clear from the off that he's an over-the-top character portrayed by a woman in drag, although Coombs Marr claims she's previously suffered walk-outs from audience members taken in by the act.

In Trigger Warning, Dave starts with his offensive shtick as usual before suddenly claiming that, following a tête-à-tête on Twitter with a group of 'feminazis', he's decided to put that sort of behaviour behind him, claiming he's now a changed man. This about-turn is the first of several surprising twists as Trigger Warning starts to unravel in interesting and unexpected directions. Dave renounces stand-up comedy and tries his hand at mime, claiming to have recently studied at the Gaulier clown school. And at various points he turns into Zoe, a thirtysomething lesbian comedian.

As Dave (or is it Zoe?) further folds in on himself, the show turns into a fascinating deconstruction of ego before the comedian makes explicit reference to Christopher Nolan's mind-bending dreams-within-dreams film Inception. Coombs Marr's postmodern matryoshka doll of a show is spellbinding and intricately crafted. The opening act as Dave is a genuinely funny piece of character comedy and the initial rug-pull feels incongruous before the pieces gradually fall into place.

Not everyone will get the joke and from the outset, elaborate call-backs are set up which, in the context of Dave's bad stand-up act, appear to be throwaway gags. Coombs Marr has done the unexpected with her odious creation and through a committed performance she makes him part of something very special indeed.

Underbelly Cowgate, until 28 Aug (not 15), 6.50pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).

Zoë Coombs Marr: Trigger Warning

  • 4 stars

Soho Theatre, the Mason Sisters @ PBJ with Underbelly Winner: Barry Award, Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Dave is back! After the fallout of his first show and threats from scary feminists, he’s given up stand-up and turned to the serious clown training of Gaulier. Featuring classics like What's the Deal with…