THERE’S A BIT

Time Out (Melbourne) - - THE BEST MEDICINE - àdavid Quirk: Cow­boy Mouth, Mel­bourne Town Hall, 90-130 Swanston St, Mel­bourne 3000. 1300 660 013. www.com­e­dyfes­ti­val.com.au. Mon-sat 9.45pm; Sun 8.45pm (ex­cept Sun Apr 2). $20-$32. Mar 30-Apr 23.

in David Quirk’s new show, Cow­boy Mouth, where the Mel­bourne co­me­dian and ac­tor talks about the Overview Ef­fect. It’s a term that refers to a com­mon ex­pe­ri­ence for as­tro­nauts who have seen Earth in its en­tirety from space. “They have this spir­i­tual, over­whelm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and some of them have to turn to re­li­gion or sci­ence to come to terms with the beauty of this thing that they un­der­stand, but that we down here don’t un­der­stand.” The idea for the show came when four dif­fer­ent women wrote to him in a short space of time, telling him that they’d each had a bizarre dream about him. Nat­u­rally, Quirk be­gan won­der­ing whether there was any truth in the dreams (“In one I’m a gi­ant man baby breast­feed­ing in a flan­nelette shirt”) – and won­der­ing what he could learn about the way he is per­ceived from the out­side. “Be­lieve it or not, it’s a com­edy show!” he says, laugh­ing. “The show feels like it’s about per­cep­tion… how we live our lives, how we tell our­selves lies. I feel that no­body knows what’s go­ing on un­der any cir­cum­stances. It feels like there’s a slightly philo­soph­i­cal an­gle to this show, but it’s also got re­ally stupid sto­ries about the way I ex­ist.”

Blend­ing phi­los­o­phy with the ev­ery­day is clas­sic Quirk. In past shows, he has wo­ven and un­rav­elled tales from work­ing in re­tail, re­la­tion­ships, mun­dane con­ver­sa­tions and ob­ser­va­tions, tak­ing au­di­ence mem­bers to strange (and hi­lar­i­ous) cor­ners of the ab­surd. “In my last show, there was a bit I was meant to use – a quote from a book – and it said ‘the func­tion of the imag­i­na­tion is not to make strange things set­tled, so much as to make set­tled things strange.’ In my mind I’m al­ways try­ing not to take an easy ap­proach, and do some­thing orig­i­nal.” In pre­sent­ing the strange­ness of the ev­ery­day, Quirk has ven­tured into some bleak places; early on in his decade-plus ca­reer, he in­cluded ma­te­rial about sui­cide (“be­cause I cared about it”); and he con­tin­ues to chal­lenge him­self with mak­ing mean­ing­ful (and still some­times, dark) themes funny. “I see com­edy as like any other per­for­ma­tive art… but in com­edy you are sup­posed to make them laugh. But be­yond that, I’ve al­ways won­dered what else you can do.”

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