Review: Zoe Coombs Marr Agony! Misery! at the Town Hall

Review by Alice Mooney


Zoe Coombs Marr delivers another high energy, fast paced show that takes the form of a high school slide show presentation and escalates into a surprise live instrumental performance. Agony! Misery! orbits the ongoing existence of the ninety’s cult comedy classic, puppetry of the penis as context for Zoe’s trip down memory lane. She observes the pure nonsense of that shows longevity against all the pivotal moments of her life that have come to shape her and who she is today.


In the intimacy of the Town Hall’s Powder Room, she works the crowd well and begins with a good string of one-liners getting everyone giggling. She addresses the problem that although she has spent much of her life living in Sydney, she feels she’s lived in Melbourne longer after moving here in March of 2020. With that she uses images of comical yet childish Wiki How illustrations to discuss with the post-lockdown crowd the definition of funny and how to laugh at things after prolonged periods of isolation. If you once used the nineties software called Paint that we all had on our computers before the internet, you’ll definitely appreciate the evenings slideshow which also includes wholesome photos of a young Zoe.


She talks of her proudest moment as a young flautist performing a solo at her high School Eisteddfod. She brings along ‘extracts’ of her journal where a teenage Zoe describes her metal work class as ‘riveting’. She later shares her thoughts on an immerging narrative of having to centre social and environmental injustices around the effects of penises in order to get men to care. The laughter heightened at the rhetoric of vegan boners, penis shrinkage caused by pollution and engaging in social work to improve the taste of…


Despite the re-occurring theme of male genitalia through-out the show, she laments for young Zoe who had once ‘wished that she could be a lesbian because then she’d be able to be with girls!’ How far she has come now, finding herself in a long-term lesbian relationship, buying apartments like a real adult. I feel there is a generation of people who’ll relate here. The show finishes with her re-living her solo flute performance with a rendition of the Flaming Lips ‘Do you realise’ and a surprise support act. Her observational humour, and the ability to completely milk a joke for all its worth is enjoyable for all who’ll attend Zoe’s Agony! Misery!


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