Brisbane Festival Interview: Zoe Coombs-Marr on her award winning show Trigger Warning

A female comedian, dressed as a male comedian, dressed as a silent Gaulier clown trying not to offend anyone. That is the premise of Zoe Coombs Marr’s award-winning show Trigger Warning, and it promises to have you in stitches.

After a successful run last year that saw the Australian comedian win a Barry Award, Zoe makes her way to Brisbane Festival and  let us in on what to expect from the show she describes as, ‘clown inception madness.’

Super excited to see you at Brisbane Festival with your award winning show! Without giving away too much, what are audiences letting themselves in for?

Well, on paper it is me playing an aggressively mediocre male comedian, who, in dealing with the fallout of a feminist twitter shame storm, has been forced to become a clown.

In practice, though, it is my mind folding inside out and taking the audience with me into a clown inception madness.

What inspired Trigger Warning?

I don’t really know. It was sort of a big storm of frustration and nonsense that I didn’t have a huge amount of control over. I guess it’s about trying to exist as a “female comedian”, and dealing with all the politics of that AND at the same time, trying to make people wet their pants with laughter. If I’m honest, this show is also partly a comeback to a couple of genuinely awful comics I have had to follow over the last 15 years or so. It’s also about the left, us progressives, and patterns that I see there too. It’s about challenging the idea of “calling someone out” in a way. And radical empathy. I am also inspired by good clowns, terrible clowns, bad comedy, excellent comedy, bombing, killing, glass mime boxes, and emotional pop ballads like Evanescence My-Immortal and Sia’s chandelier.

It’s funny, ok. I promise.

How did it feel to win the Barry Award for the show last year?

Oh yeah, pretty good. It was a bit of a shock. I really didn’t expect to win, and had already won another award that night, so I had gotten quite drunk. To be honest, I don’t remember the actual moment that well. I’m going to hazard a guess and say “shocking but very good”?

A Guardian review said you showed it was possible to be both a feminist and the funniest person in the room. Are there any other comedians out there you think are doing a cracking job of it too?

Oh tons. I really don’t think it’s the exception to the rule, like, feminism and funny are not mutually exclusive. I mean Hannah Gadsby’s doing a cracker of it at the moment! Also, Get Krackin, which is on ABC at the moment, is HILARIOUS and doesn’t miss an opportunity to be biting. Anne Edmonds is beyond funny in it, and everything she does. But really, I think you’d be pretty hard pressed to find a female comic who’s not a feminist, and women are hilarious. I think the more nuanced and interesting your viewpoint, the more access you have to the mines of funny gold. Women, because they’re a little outside the norm in stand up, have a slightly different perspective, which makes for funny. And beyond that, non white people have an even more interesting perspectives, like I’m pretty pumped for the next season of Black Comedy. Briggs is one of the funniest people in Australia at the moment. And there are a few new comic voices like Steph Tisdell, and Nayuka Gorrie who are doing pretty exciting things. And then you’ve got the queer perspectives of people like Bec Shaw, and, you get it. Difference is good.

Is this your first time at Bris Fest? Will you have the chance to see any other shows and, if so, what are you eyeing up?

Yes it is my first time! One of the things I love about a festival is talking to people and finding out what’s good from that. So, I’ll be flying by the seat of my pants once I arrive. That said, my sister lives in Brisbane, and is pregnant, so I’m definitely eyeing up her fat belly.

(also I’ve heard great things about Bron Batten’s show Onstage Dating, History History History, and I LOVE the movie Suspiria, so I’m sure the live Goblin score will be nothing short of excellent and creepy)

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Zoë Coombs-Marr: Trigger Warning premiered at the 2017 Brisbane Festival on Sep 12 and will be running until September 15 at the Theatre Republic. For tickets visit: http://www.brisbanefestival.com.au/whats-on/zo%C3%AB-coombs-marr-trigger-warning