Zoe Coombs Marr, Edinburgh Fringe review: A skin-crawling parody of a sexist stand-up makes for top-flight character comedy

As beery Aussie fella Dave, the Sydney newcomer is so awful, it's brilliant

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The Independent Culture

There may be many, er, unpolished acts to be found on the Fringe, but you’re unlikely to come across anyone as deliriously awful as Dave.

A beery, misogynist, homophobic Aussie bloke whose sense of humour is as ratty as his beard, he is making his Edinburgh debut with a full hour at the Underbelly, despite only ever having managed 7 minutes at “Sydney’s Laugh Hole” and being non-plussed by all the “weird” alternative comedy of his peers. He’s also the drag guise of fellow Sydneyite and festival newcomer Coombs Marr.

With eyes on stalks and a maniacal grin, Coombs Marr serves up a hilariously grotesque parody of a certain kind of retrograde club stand-up, which transcends nationality and is encapsulated in Dave’s skin-crawling refrain “The fellas know what I’m talking about.” But moving beyond Little Britain-style, cross-dressing caricature, she also manages to find pathos in her creation, and, by the same token, in a familiar strain of bluff masculinity, as Dave’s defensively macho exterior cracks under the pressure of trying to eke out his nonsensically threadbare material.

Arguably, Coombs Marr could excavate the psychology of Dave even further: one particular twist that interestingly puts the spotlight on us audience of “hipster bigots” isn’t quite followed through, and a musical finale breaks character logic, even if you can forgive that for a glorious dance routine. But overall this is top-flight character comedy, and if Dave might want to consider his career prospects, then Coombs Marr is on the rise, for sure.

Underbelly, to 30 Aug (edfringe.com); then Soho Theatre, London, 1 to  12 Sept, (sohotheatre.com)