Zoe Coombes Marr was wise enough to give herself a year off after her multi-award winning, game changing Trigger Warning. She could’ve have followed that with more of the same or another show starring her alter ego misogynist, hack stand-up Dave, but Zoe took the braver more unexpected path. She wanted to reclaim the stage for herself and rediscover her own voice.
Dave is there though simmering below the surface, as Zoe says, she seems to have assumed some of his stand up technique and this is not a completely bad thing when it brings a huge energy to her performance. She opens with his loud cock sure style and this very subtly recedes somewhat as the show progresses but her confidence remains. While clueless Dave fought a losing battle to be a Gualier style clown, Zoe is asserting her space as a stand up comedian, though can’t help a bit of silliness slipping through the cracks. She has some fabulous surprises up her sleeves (and they’re not bananas).
Zoe had a huge 2016 where Trigger Warning won her The Barry Award, The Golden Gibbo (amongst other things) and a whole new fanbase. She married Rhys Nicholson in a hilarious sham marriage at Max Watts as a protest against Australia’s then policies against same sex marriage (well that seemed to do the trick, yay!). In Bossy Bottom, Zoe shares some personal stories and points out that her longest relationship has been with us, her audience, and that loving exchange works both ways. She talks about the very masculine and often (famously) misogynist tradition of stand up that inspired Dave. She is determined to create, not only a space for herself but a safe space for us, her mostly female fanbase. When I say safe I don’t mean conservative, Zoe is provocative, political and downright filthy. The space might be safe but she certainly keeps us on our toes.
Trigger Warning virtually destroyed me, I was weeping so hard from laughing and crying that I was literally nearly falling limp off my seat, but it also remade me as a better woman and comedy lover. I felt she was seeing inside me, expressing thoughts I could barely admit to, but clearly I was not alone. It stopped me feeling ashamed of the aspects of comedy I don’t like and can’t condone. I think it also helped prepare the way for Hannah Gadsby’s extraordinary Nanette last year that won all the awards and is currently having an extended season in New York.
Bossy Bottom cements Zoe Coombes Marr’s place at the forefront of Australian feminist comedy but above all Zoe is freaking hilarious.
Bossy Bottom is on at the Melbourne Town Hall – Powder Room until April 22