There are lots of comedians who use what I like to call ‘practised bumbling’ to comic effect. Few do it as well as Laura Davis. She does it so well it might not be practised at all but rather just an innate, endearing scattiness in delivery that makes her a pleasure to watch perform. It’s a style that complements the venue, the top deck of a converted bus, perfectly. In turn, the bus lends the show a casual, loose, flexible sort of atmosphere that’s only enhanced by Davis herself.
The bus venue is also a happy accident in that the primary framing device of the show is Davis’ wonderfully unusual recollection of a bus journey she had in London. The story serves as a springboard for her to leap into a broad range of idiosyncratic observations, jokes and little sub-stories, all filtered through the genuinely singular sieve of her brain. I don’t in any way want to diminish the hard work Davis obviously puts into her comedy but you do get the sense she’s just good at this, working with a mind that can find something to laugh at in almost everything and indeed a great deal of the show’s humour is found in Davis teasing out hilarity from mundanity.
There’s a delightful mix of jokes throughout as well: smart ones, silly ones, some childish ones, and laced throughout with precision, a few very gross ones too. She’s great at all of them but maybe too reserved with the latter, as if she’s not quite sure of her more risky material. She ought to be sure of it though and I expect as the run continues, she will be. There’s very little to complain about with Better Dead Than a Coward, other than that the version I saw was still a bit rough and unpolished but that’s to be expected for the first couple of performances. Davis missteps in delivery here and there but it’s nothing you can’t forgive and nothing that won’t be ironed out in the weeks to come.
As much the bus was a fun place to see Davis, I can’t help but feel she’s got a show here that deserves a bigger crowd than you can squeeze onto its top deck. It’s great fun. Go see it.