Laura Davis: Well Don’t Just Stand There Dancing | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review
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Laura Davis: Well Don’t Just Stand There Dancing

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

Well, that was intense.

That’s really the only response for Laura Davis’ frenetic stream of consciousness about the state of the world and the state of her life. Her latest show is a smart, sometimes silly, and ambitiously wide-ranging set, delivered with a messianic zeal bordering on the troubling. Delivered at a million miles an hour, it feels like her mind is running away with her, but everything turns out to be more tightly connected than first appearances suggest.

She identifies herself as a revolutionary ‘trapped in the body of a gifted comedian’ and is here to unveil her detailed manifesto to fix everything. You know, like the Unabomber…

It would be a lengthy document, as Davis has no shortage of ideas, fired at the audience with the force of a fire hose. However, it’s not long before we shift away from her politicised vision of the future to look back at the past.

This starts with a surreal yarn about moving to London and operating a side hustle as the neighbourhood spider-catcher, but we’re quickly back to reality, buffeting between her awkwardness at parties to the televised horror of Naked Attraction, from her penchant for roaming beaches at night to climate-change denial, from Jurassic Park to QAnon’s outlandish conspiracy theories.

If it seems like the sort of freewheeling conversation you might have while stoned with a friend, there’s good reason, as much of the content was inspired by – and is now delivered in memory of – someone who was very close to her.

Her friend's death is not mined for pathos but the loss is no less keenly felt for it. Rather than get maudlin, Davis is inspired to do a show he would be proud of. He surely would be, given her refusal to compromise and commitment to delivering quirky stories, observations and opinions on her terms, not beholden to any expectations.

That initially seems a mess, but there’s an excitement to having so many thoughts simmering and spluttering out, while her absolute conviction gives them impetus. Some are very funny, and some are not – but they are never not interesting. And eventually, a grander idea does emerge, giving some context to routines that seemed random.

Well Don’t Just Stand There Dancing sends you out into the street with your head spinning with complex reactions to a rich casserole of comic ideas. That’s perhaps too much for those seeking comedy as a snack of instant gratification, but food for thought for everyone else.

• Well Don’t Just Stand There Dancing is on at Campari House at 8.15pm until April 23.

Review date: 11 Apr 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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