Acclaimed Australian comedian Laura Davis hijacked our attention with her show ‘Ghost Machine‘ in 2018, and continued to impress us with ‘Better Dead Than a Coward‘ in 2019. After practically being made homeless thanks to lockdown she returns with a new show, ‘If This Is It’. We ask her about her show, being stranded halfway round the World for two years, and finding the funny in difficult subjects.
How have the last few years been for you? Your situation seems to have been more dramatic than most.
Yes, the international borders closed while I was away on tour so the landlord packed up my flat for me via Zoom. I’ve spent the last two and a half years living out of the same suitcase I left my house with in February 2020. I spent quite some time in the woods, waiting out the border closures. I’m still trying to get back to a place where I have a home to go to, but for now I’m still technically on tour.
Can you tell us about ‘If This Is It’?
I’m really not very good at doing this part and it’s the main and honest reason that these questions sat open in my tabs for a few days. I don’t know how to describe it objectively from my side of things. So please accept this copy from the Chortle review: “This Is It is a primal, defiant, guttural howl about the toxicity of capitalism, the monetisation of rage and fear, misogyny, culture wars, the perils of undervaluing art, the destruction of the climate, the creeping onset of a neo-fascist state – and so much more.”
You’re dealing with some big – and not obviously funny – subjects, such as neo-fascism, the climate crisis, and rogue capitalism. How do you go about finding the humour in these issues?
The worst thing you can do in comedy is stick to what is obvious. I think it’s very important to be able to find humour and weakness in these big, oppressive, terrifying things. If people can’t find fun in talking about them, then very few people want to talk about them at all. And if we don’t talk about them, they crush us and nothing can ever be solved. There is just as much funny in these things as in anything else, you just have to be willing to look for it.
f you want the boring technicalities I would say that each subject has many layers, every layer has different aspects, every aspect has multiple angles, every angle has numerous parallels, every parallel has distinct extrapolations in different directions. If you’re willing to go through each subject and dissect it in that way, with the slant of finding out where the humour is, you’ll always find it. It feels like it’s all about scale, and value. Applying different formulas and filters and seeing where you get.
It’s been three years since the last full Fringe. What would constitute a successful August for you? Do you have any particular hopes or expectations?
If I’ve learned anything from the last two and a half years it would be to let go of expectation. However, I do have hopes. I hope that my room is full and lots of people enjoy the show. I think that’s really all I want, the antidote to spending two and a half years mostly alone in the forest. I hope I can still get away with eating two pieces of cake a day for a month. I hope I get to see something that someone has made that really surprises and delights me.
This will be your fourth show at the Fringe. Have you had any really memorable Fringe experiences, good or bad, either as performer or as an audience member?
In 2019 before my show started I asked the audience outright if anyone in that night was a c*nt and a man put up his hand and said “Aye, I’m a c*nt.” I asked if he would be able to hold it in for an hour or if he’d better leave now and he said he wouldn’t be able to and then he just got up and left.
What are the best and worst things about the Fringe?
I really like getting all of my meals from vans for a month. I really don’t like getting all of my meals from vans for a month.
Are there any acts we should check out that you think deserve more attention?
‘If This Is It‘ runs from Thu 4 to Sun 28 Aug 2022 (except Tue 16 Aug) at Monkey Barrel Comedy – Carnivore @16:00