On comedy

Since Diogenes first sat naked in a barrel in an Athenian street, eating an apple and bearing his spleen to bemused city folk, the job of a comic has been obvious: um, to be funny. There are no higher duties or courtesies to observe, no relevant protocols, no occupational health and safety guidelines. There is nothing but the terrifying job of making the people laugh. And as we all know people do it differently, humour is as diverse as we are, blah blah blah, a genius to a few is an idiot to many and vice versa amen.

 

My favourites are Jerry Sadowitz, Paul Foot, Simon Munnery. And I have things for Sarah Silverstein and Hannah Gadsby. But I admire anyone who gets the job done .... and I do love a laugh. And I love to see someone get it totally right. Like watching Brian Lara bat or Shane Warne bowl. Or Gillian Welch, you just gotta admire a job well done. 

 

Which brings me to Zoe. And whatever 'it' is, Zoe has it (No time for a proper review just some thoughts). The basic conceit of this show Trigger Warning is that she's offended so many peeps that she needs a long list of disclaimers to get her material out, but she worries that even using the term Trigger is a Trigger. Yeah! This is my kind of horse. As some may not know, Zoe performs mainly as Dave, a Bogan rhapsody in denim whose gender is sketched by some excellent body clowning and wisps of facial hair that are half beard, half vegemite smear. Dave realising that avoiding triggers is impossible announces that the show will be a mime. An hour of it. Sounds shit? It's meant to. And it's hilarious cos Zoe Dave Dave Zoe is funny in its Intersex bones. There's about 15 minutes of mime, most of it meta mine, and it's all proper gold.

 

There is mine and fake mime and jokes about both. There is a parody of a QnA on comedy and gender (as Zoe) that is actually a QnA on comedy and gender. Endless jokes about fisting and MDMA in the 90s and more fisting and stuff. And getting lost in the mime. Deep in the mime! There's Dave and there's Zoe and this targeted wild energy that grabs you by the throat and leaves you dangling above your own life and our stupid divisions of gender and sexuality and what we consider funny. And laughing flat out.

 

Pro tip. ZoeDave deftly keeps the audience at distance by saying every few minutes 'this bloke / woman knows what I'm saying' to anyone who laughs. It's a good trick - you're me mate / fuck you at the same time.

 

Only a queer woman playing a bogan man could make some of the jokes from Dave ... like 'my idea of a condom is having a skinny chick on my cock while I'm fucking a fat one'; or 'I like my women like my coffee too hot to put your dick in'. Written down they seem tame and maybe they are but in our priggish times Zoe Coombes is a breath of fresh and queer Bogan air. 

 

Incredibly in the Acacia Room at the Victoria Hotel, there were only thirty-odd people. Don't worry, Zoe won't be slummin it for long. She's a special and unmissable if you get the chance. 

 

 

 

On Melbourne

I love Melbourne. Twice I nearly moved here. For law school and a job. Glad I didn't because it preserves an endless appeal with its beloved old haunts - the European, Brunettis, Marios, Bar Idda, other joints I can't remember (lists always sound silly!). This is where I saw Barry Kosky's early shows at St Kilda Motors (will not hear a word against him), caught They Might Be Giants at the Richmond Town Hall (after driving from the Colleambally potato fields with Graham The World) and where I beheld Mick McGuane bouncing it from halfback at the G against Carlton - four times! - and kicking truly - elated in the concrete of the old Ponsford stand. The site of so much love and partying, grand schemes and occasional triumphs, regular delights. Did I mention I love Melbourne?

This show I'm doing is a story. Every time I tell it I wonder what it is. After every show I change it, sometimes tinkering, sometimes surgery. It's never the same and always the same (it's a magic pudding, too, I cut 10 minutes and it comes again!)

Like Swimming to Cambodia (pardon the allusion) it's my story, a public confession, and a story of the world that tells itself, that I need to get out of the way of, even when I'm 'exposing' myself. Does that make sense? On the surface, you cannot do a monologue without a strong ego - and there is ego in everything. It ain't a dirty word as a Melbourne band once sang. The question is what you do with it. And not even that. Cos at the very time you are asking people to interrupt their busy lives for a story - ooh, ooh, listen to me - you are also effacing yourself, dispersing in the cast of characters, and submitting to the ideas that make the story live. Whatever it is. And I am not sure, which is part of why I keep telling it.

I would tell this story to three people for nothing. And have already told it happily to 7 people in Gympie at a former nudist colony. And to 12 once in Darwin. I hope I don't have to do that here, but if the numbers are low, I will just breathe in and tell the story. Do the job. For whatever reason, this is what I am doing. Muhammad Yunus roams the world. Grameen trundles on, with its 8 million borrowers, mainly women, mainly Muslim. Bangladesh glacially makes its progress out of poverty, educates more of its girls, drinks cleaner water. All the while the security state of the west insists on telling its story of fear, loud and boorish, and whoever wants to listen to this story - of love, of the importance of loving, of laughter, and never forgetting - shall hear it. Inshallah.

On the road

On the road

South Grafton has a main drag full of fine buildings suggesting they once had a gold rush that lasted a week. 

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