When the character of Dave was first conjured into being by comedian Zoe Coombs Marr nearly a decade ago, he was crafted out of all the things she is not: part nemesis, part alter ego. He was a cocksure, hairy, hack comic, full of sexist jokes and bravado, a white-bread VB drinker suspicious of new ideas or gender greyscales. She’s not, although they share some hair.
But he was a great vehicle for social commentary on much of what irked her in the world. He also helped her earn both the Barry Award AND the Golden Gibbo award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2016.
After a violent encounter with a glass ceiling, Dave, it seems, has been in a coma since then (giving space for the character of Bossy Bottom instead). BUT HE’S BACK, BABY! – and he’s keen to make up for lost time.
So he missed covid, he’s trying to get his head around #MeToo, but he’s pretty hacked off about all this Cancel Culture stuff, and a bit confused Dave Chappelle’s TERF wars. (For non-Netflix watchers, you might want to bone up on Chappelle’s ‘The Closer’ 2021 show to get full benefit of the many references ‘The Opener’ makes of it.)
If that all sounds a bit uncomfortable, Coombs Marr takes time out to assure audiences she’s never far away, in her role as his handler-director-puppet master, and she gets plenty of laughs from some cleverly set up conversations between the two.
His jokes might be even more outdated than his neckbeard but the quickfire observations are all spot on, cleverly woven like DoubleSpeak into his blunt commentary and gross-out physical comedy. As Dave spirals out of control, microdosing his way into a time warp, Coombs Marr comes close to losing the plot a bit too, but she pulls it all back together in grand theatrical style.
Dave: The Opener is a reminder that Coombs Marr is much more than a stand-up comic; she’s a performer, actor, and one of the sharpest brains on the comedy circuit.
2022 Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Dave: The Opener
Zoe Coombs Marr
Venue: Fairfax Studio | Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 31/03/2022 – 24/04/2022
Tickets: $35 – $25
Bookings: 1300 182 183 | www.artscentremelbourne.com.au