Comedy review: Mae Martin: Dope

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Imparted by an increasingly mature, accomplished storyteller, Dope is essentially Mae Martin’s origins story, and a richly absorbing one at that.

Laughing Horse @ City Cafe (Venue 85)

****

Hooked on addiction, it was borne from her mother’s suggestion that her recent listlessness might be attributable to her not having stimulants for the first time since childhood. Characterised, rather unnecessarily, as a French-accented shrimp residing at the back of her brain, Martin’s addictive personality first manifested itself in her devotion to Bette Midler, the pre-pubescent
erotic thrill and negative impact upon her education of this obsession retrospectively convincing her that she was indeed, addicted.

From that initial dopamine high, the Canadian progressed to a teenage passion for comedy, bitten by the bug when her parents snuck her into a club at 11 and she got laughs after ending up on stage. Becoming a devotee of the Second City improv troupe, to the extent of furiously penning sexualised fan blogs about one of the cast, she dropped out of school and became a workaholic stand-up herself. Then just as quickly, she found herself getting into drugs and dealing.

Despite the intensity of her early life, this curious comic doesn’t over-dramatise her tale, nor couch it in too much sober navel-gazing, finding an entertaining balance of anecdote and analysis, ultimately allowing one of her giddier fantasies to bring the show to an uplifting climax. Though persuasive in her self-diagnosis, Martin resists easy conclusions, lingering questions about her sexuality suggesting there are further chapters of this story to be written. Or, more probably, adapted for the airwaves, as a version of this excellent free show has been picked up by Radio 4, who are increasingly making Martin a fixture.