Edinburgh Fringe Review: Mae Martin, Laughing Horse @ City Cafe

Update 23/8/17: Mae Martin has been nominated for a lastminute.com Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Show. See nominees here.

UK-based Canadian comic Mae Martin has been building up an impressive head of steam in the last few years and she has really come good with her latest show, Dope. Martin’s material has always been pretty personal, but here she digs deep into past obsessions to produce easily her best set yet.

This skinny, energetic performer reveals quickly onstage that she has an addictive personality. Some of those addictions have been more damaging than others. Being hooked on certain singers is not against the law, but some of the other things she got up to in her youth might have been more questionable. She looks pretty innocent, but it turns out she was a bit of a fiend back in the day. 

There are various big things Martin has been obsessed with too - from comedy to love (and the title of the show is a clue to something else). And, as she suggests towards the end of Dope, perhaps we are living in a society where being addicted to something is becoming the norm. We crave the Dopamine hit of pleasure we get from highs. Look at the way we can’t resist sneaking a peak at our smartphones all the time, hoping for a retweet or like.

If this sounds like a serious show it certainly isn’t. Martin has grown into a formidable, charismatic performer, nervily jerking around the stage and making a funny buzzing noise to represent the “shrimp in her brain” that needs to be fed by a fix of something.

There is lots here to enjoy, from her flirty banter with the audience to her stories about being a teenage oddball on the Toronto stand-up scene. She went to so many gigs – and dressed so weirdly – that she was famous even before she was a performer. The club had a special seat for her and a local paper wrote about her. She even has the cutting to prove it.

I’d like to have had a bit more background about why Martin thinks she has an addictive streak. Is it nature? Is it nurture? Her parents – who she has also talked about in previous shows – sound pretty bohemian. Maybe being off-the-wall is in Martin’s genes. Maybe nobody knows the definitive answer anyway. This is a small criticism though. Dope is a show where you leave not just with a smile on your face but where you feel you have really got to know the person you have just been enjoying.

Mae Martin: Dope, Laughing Horse @ City Cafe until August 27. Tickets here. Then touring, details here.




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