Zoe Coombs Marr: Every Single Thing In My Whole Entire Life | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review
review star review star review star review star review blank star

Zoe Coombs Marr: Every Single Thing In My Whole Entire Life

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

Zoe Coombs Marr has spent many years taking apart the engines of stand-up – most of them as Dave, the toxic, pathetic parody of the hack male comedian – all underpinned by an apparent distrust of the art form she happens to be rather good at.

But the time keeping her true self largely out of her work has come to an end… and in a truly comprehensive style. Every Single Thing In My Whole Entire Life offers what it suggests, based on her every experience so far.

Still, she maintains a healthy scepticism about the tropes of stand-up. It rather pains her that by turning to the personal, she has to confess to depressive thoughts and the same ADHD that so many of her colleagues have been diagnosed with. Mental health issues are SO unoriginal…

Luckily, she barely needs to explicitly mention the ADHD, given she demonstrates it at almost every turn – a fine example of the storytelling motif that it’s best to show, not tell. 

The condition’s primary manifestation is in the way Coombs Marr has meticulously logged all those life experiences – first on a virtual whiteboard, then into a vast spreadsheet whose columns and cross-referenced categories stretch for page after page. She’s a comic who Excels, and excels.

Visit Melbourne Melbourne International Comedy FestivvalMelbourne International Comedy Festiva news and reviews with Visit VictoriaShe needs the aide memoire, as her recollections are inconsistent. Her brain can dwell on the precise type of pen someone used to inscribe the graffiti on to the school bookshelves – pine, they were – decades ago. But she can’t remember a significant incident in the recent past you’d think wouldn’t slip the memory so easily.

Projecting the spreadsheet throughout the hour and allowing the audience to suggest topics from it makes this feel like the stand-up equivalent of an open-world video game, where you can wander freely about the environment of Coombs Marr’s past to see what you might find, even though the developer has a narrative they’ll ultimately nudge you to follow.

The show is then, at least in part, different every day. Some parts, such as the primal fear of frogs hiding in the toilet, remain fixed. Others, from embarrassing dates to dodgy places to live, may vary. That she can be so clumsy in real life contrasts with her self-deprecating skill in retelling such stories.

The looseness plays into the easy, playful relationship Coombs Marr has always had with her audience, which is only amplified by the added candour of the personal material. She knows our concerns – do we really want to hear about suicide ideation or gender identities? – and defuses them with a great joke. Or sometimes a dumb one. Indeed, one of the cornballs earns her an applause break tonight, underlining how much the room is onside, enjoying playing the comedy game.

It cuts two ways, and Coombs Marr seems to be genuinely enjoying herself, too, creating that perfect comedic virtuous circle of infectious delight. In fact, the mutual indulgence results in her overrunning and crashing too quickly into the set-piece ending. Her concluding video needed more space and context, even if the groundwork had been laid earlier in the show, to serve as the perfect full stop to a hugely enjoyable hour rather than a rushed excuse to leave the stage.

But it’s not such a bad criticism to say Coombs Marr is trying to pack too much into an hour. Nor that we would happily have listened to more.

Enjoy our reviews? Like us to do more? Please consider supporting our in-depth coverage of Britain's live comedy scene with a monthly or one-off ko-fi donation, if cou can. The more you support us, the more we can cover! 

Review date: 3 Apr 2024
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.