Laura Davis: Cake In The Rain | Review by Steve Bennett at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival
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Laura Davis: Cake In The Rain

Review by Steve Bennett at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Among the many moments that leap out from Laura Davis’s bold and unique show is when she reveals that she has frequent suicidal impulses… which make her happy.

It’s the perfect encapsulation of stand-up that’s unafraid to probe the murkier corners of the psyche, but ultimately finds a defiant satisfaction in dealing with it all. Because when those dark urges come, she’s forced to think of life’s little pleasures to quell them. For many, cake in the rain is a sad image - for her it seems to be a sweet, if fragile, treat in the grey misery.

With this peculiar optimistic pessimism, she almost welcomes the impending apocalypse, however it may come. She mocks the doomsday preppers hunkering down in their bunkers – with no little irony given the subterranean concrete cell her show is being performed in – but concedes she sees the attraction of cult membership, delegating away all tricky decisions about dealing with life.

It is part of a strong confessional core to the show. ‘I’m not sure if this is a joke or a secret,’ she teases at one point – answer: it’s both – and she starts the hour with what she describes as her ‘most harrowing tale’, when her personal space was creepily invaded on public transport. 

She speaks, too, of how she is battling after a ‘decade of bitterness’ in comedy, where even now multi-million dollar companies refuse to pay her for her work. But because Davis has not chosen the easy route though her craft, she has emerged so much better, so much more idiosyncratic, for it. One such point is when she takes on the sneering, fake stereotype that all female comedians do is talk about periods by inventing a creative, dark and brilliant routine that should silence such critics.

It’s not all introspection, as Davis, like any smart, engaged comic, cannot ignore the rise of the reactionaries. And while deriding antediluvian thinking may be seen as easy pickings, the rigour and invention with which she mockingly adopts the petty tone of someone angry that the little green men on road crossings are now sometimes women proves to be a precise, devastating takedown. 

Her fluid performance matches the frank nature of the material, with no boundary of any sort between her and the audience. After all, it’s hard to put on a facade as a high-status comic when you’re fiddling with the walk-in music on your iPod as the audience arrive. 

Giddy with big ideas, sparkling with originality, and rich with hilarious wit, Cake In The Rain could be the underground hit of this festival. And with her venue, that can be taken literally.

Review date: 10 Apr 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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