Zoë Coombs Marr: Trigger Warning

Zoe Coombs Marr attracted attention at last year’s Fringe with her debut show Dave, performing in drag as a sexist stand-up with a severe distaste for political correctness who is struggling to stay afloat in a changing world. This year she’s back with a show that delves deeper into Dave’s (and her own) psychology in an intricately layered performance that is clever and hilarious in equal measure.

An excellent performer and most definitely a comedian on the rise.

Dave is stressed out: “It’s not a great time to be a white man in comedy”, he laments. Dave loves the ladies but women in the twitter-sphere, and especially those scary ‘Jezebels’, have been giving him a lot of hate for the supposed offensiveness of his last show. So, having schooled up in the art of clowning at Gaulier’s Ecole in Paris, Dave is back and he’s swapping stand-up for mime to prove to all those nasty internet feminists that he’s changed. As one might imagine, this doesn’t go so well for him.

Trigger Warning is a slow-burner. Initially it seems like straightforward parodic character comedy, with some satisfying jibes at the potential idiocy of both clowning and stand-up thrown in for good measure. However, the intelligence of Coombs Marr’s writing repays the audience ten-fold for this slightly slow beginning as we explore Dave’s sexism through different prisms. The show’s complexity snowballs as it starts cracking open like a postmodern Russian doll, jumping between Dave and a “cranky lesbian” called Zoe without ever slipping into self-congratulatory pretentiousness. The tense connection between these two characters carries the show through its last half hour in an escalating spiral of metafictional hilarity.

There are some fantastic set-pieces, notably a sample of Dave’s new and improved material that aims to be inclusive: some observational comedy on what it’s like to have a vagina, “you know how it is”. The show is unashamedly grotesque - occasionally even a bit gruesome - but somehow Coombs Marr saves Dave from being a wholly dislikable character, which imbues the show’s political drive with warmth.

Coombs Marr is an excellent performer and most definitely a comedian on the rise. Catch this masterful tour de force while you can, before Dave retracts his offensive views altogether and ceases to be available for us to laugh at. 

Reviews by Iona Gaskell

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The Blurb

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 Online Bullying?, Mime Caught in Political Correctness Gone Mad, The Six-Foot Duck and The Crippling Fears That Keep Us Awake at Night Sketch. ‘A comedy turducken of gross-out gags, absurdist humour and sharply observed parody.’ ***** (Age). ‘Punky and genuinely original.’ ***** (Mirror). ‘A delicious meta-lasagne of insanity… off-the-charts, wet-your-pants brilliant.’ ****½ (Herald Sun).

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