Zoë Coombs Marr: Agony! Misery! | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review
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Zoë Coombs Marr: Agony! Misery!

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

Right off the top, Zoë Coombs Marr warns us this is a silly show, and for those accustomed to her subversively self-referential, all-conquering efforts of recent years, this is comparably the case. 

A notably chill Coombs Marr seems to be thoroughly enjoying a reversion to more traditional stand-up stylings, and rather than aggressive absurdism there’s heaps of goofy wordplay and so many dick-related jokes she feels obliged to acknowledge it and apologise.

Multimedia still has a role, but after briefly threatening to turn this into a deconstruction of the art form (or at least a reminder for rusty audiences of how this is all supposed to work), we settle into a personal story about Coombs Marr’s formative memory of nailing a music recital in her youth and that moment of triumph and pure presence she’s been seeking ever since. 

Along the way there’s repeated references to the staggering longevity of Puppetry of the Penis and some marvelling at the easy confidence of others along with bits on the alleged impact of a vegan diet on erections, the traumas of 20th Century kombucha home-brews and one of the most gag-inducing tabloid obsessions in Australia’s media history. 

If it sounds a bit all over the map, that’s because it is, but Coombs Marr’s considerable skill and sincerity just about keeps it on the rails, eventually guiding us to an uplifting finish that considers the unreliability of memory and how we let it inform so much of our self-image, as well as how the title of the show can be mitigated by getting out of our own heads and being willing to play with others. 

Not the most cohesive hour she’s ever put together, but a disarmingly sweet treat. 

Review date: 3 Apr 2021
Reviewed by: Patrick Horan
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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