Laura Davis: Better Dead Than A Coward | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Laura Davis: Better Dead Than A Coward

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Laura Davis could almost be performing site-specific  stand-up on Bob’s Blundabus, given that her story takes place during a journey on the top deck. Plus the ad-hoc intimacy of this peculiarly Fringe venue suits the shared-confidence style of her comedy.

She’s appeared in Edinburgh twice before with shows that revealed the sometimes troubled recesses of her mind. Last year she performed mostly beneath a sheet, ostensibly to evoke a ghost, to change the dynamic between audience and performer. 

This, however, is a far more conventional approach to storytelling comedy, with a meandering yarn that takes more diversions than the No 53 on London Marathon day, yet raises valid points as it entertains.

Davis establishes her dominance of the space with a jokey but determined preamble designed to root out any disrupters. This is a Saturday night show, and her routines require the attention a drunk cannot give. But she rewards those who do take the trip with her, with delightful imagery and fantastic turns of phrase. For example, a small dog is described in about seven different ways in quick succession each as funny and vivid as the last.

Her quirkiness further manifests itself in her insistence that she’s joined several Facebook groups dedicated to the identification of moths in the UK. But the internet being the internet, one branch became embroiled in a power struggle, which she – as a lurker – could only watch, fearful for how the coup might turn out.

How much of her shaggy dog story is fantasy for the sake of analogy and structure and how much is the gospel truth is deliberately ambiguous. Despite her earlier confessional shows, here she’s trying to establish a bit more mystique around reality. She’s a woman who doesn’t make any decisions when listening to Spotify lest the algorithms make assumptions about her.

Yet the anecdotes are rooted in the everyday, even if she has a distinctive  take on them, such as talking about Tinder and dick pics, but with wider focus than most. She also expresses discomfort at the idea of being thought of as pretty, since she’d spent time developing her intelligence, wit and personality instead. All of which are on display here.

Davis confesses, with hilarious examples, that at 31 she’s not sure she likes the comedy lifestyle any more, tiring of the weird situations she finds herself in and uncertain about the way the artform rewards introspection. But that would be a loss of a distinctive and interesting voice who’s never happy to go with the crowd.

Review date: 14 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Heroes @ Bob's BlundaBus

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