Cam Marshall - Father, Father
Birth and death haven’t been uncommon topics for comics this festival. Sarah Kendall spoke about the absurd idea of drug-free labour, while Tracey Cosgrove planned her own wake with great enthusiasm and attention to detail.
Cam Marshall deals with some similar topics in Father, Father, telling the story of becoming a father shortly before his own father died. But his perspective is very different. Marshall is a likeable, down-to-earth suburban bloke who cried during his own wedding, a reaction to his own dad’s struggle to express his emotions.
Marshall is also confident expressing outrage when his wife's new-agey birth coach comes out with this gem: “We don't like to empower the pain by calling it pain. Could you please refer to it as energy?”
On stage he’s confident and engaging throughout, though has a slight tendency to um and ah. The night I saw the show, he struggled bravely through a cold and improvised well over an unexpected interruption as Hare Krishna-style music came floating in from a march in the city outside. He’s composed and frank while describing his parents’ divorce, his dad’s cancer and even his anxiety over his young son’s choice of a pink bike helmet.
It’s not all heavy stuff. There are plenty of pop culture references, such as when Marshall dreams of taking his young son to marvel at the Apple store. Plus, he used to live in the suburb Rosanna, and breaks out into the Toto song of the same name. Many of the musical references do assume the audience is of a similar age and background to Marshall, which is a bit of a gamble. It was evident from the scattered laughter that not everyone in the audience fitted the bill.
Marshall’s humour definitely translates. But those who get him best will probably be those of an age to remember Toto, or to have grappled with a choice of birthing drugs.