On Sundays, every show at Sydney Comedy Festival is moved forward one hour for convenience’s sake. It may not seem like much, but even such a relatively minor altercation can completely throw the vibe that’s been established through previous nights.
When Toronto-raised, London-based Mae Martin walks onstage tonight, it’s just shy of 7:30pm as opposed to 8:30pm, which could easily disrupt whatever she’s had going for her in her brief run. What that doesn’t take into consideration, however, is how Martin would probably be like this regardless of what time of night it was. It’s in her nature to be a little uncomfortable, awkward and frazzled. Truthfully, it lends authenticity to what she’s doing as a comic, which is telling stories that are autobiographical in nature but skew the Layman framework of attempting to relate to a wider audience. Martin is all too aware that her story is too unique, too weird and far too specific for an audience to empathise with completely – and really, that’s totally fine.
The throughline of Dope is that Martin’s mother once remarked on how her daughter has an addictive personality. Martin contemplates and explores this, recalling her obsessions with Bette Midler (a recurring part of the show) and then stand-up, eventually becoming one herself at age 14. This takes a darker turn, as Martin openly discusses some of the less-cute addictions she’s faced in her life.
The directional pacing may be off in parts, and Martin gets a little too distracted by a couple on their first date in the front row (one of whom is way too chatty). Still, she persists and pulls through when you’re half expecting the whole thing to topple over.
Of particular note is her closer, which involves a fantasy with the aforementioned Midler. Not only does it play around with the absurdist notions of fantasising over such a grandiose pop culture icon, but also provides a succinct insight into Martin’s personality.
As scattershot as her approach can be, when she hones in on a bit she is formidably hysterical and practically irrepressible. Truly, any perceived shortcomings that come with Dope can easily be overlooked. Above everything else, you want to spend even more time with Martin – if only to find out what other surreal stories are to be found through her intriguing, fascinating life.
Mae Martin was reviewed at the Enmore Theatre on Sunday April 30 during Sydney Comedy Festival 2017.