MICF 2016: Zoe McDonald in GOOD MORNING MOFO

Promising characters invite solid laughs

By Myron My

Zoe McDonald’s one-woman, multiple-character comedy show Good Morning Mofo begins before it even begins. As we enter the “studio”, Channel 8 intern, Jenny, “who’s not getting paid but really happy to be here” anxiously seats everyone and ensures all health and safety issues are recognised and everyone is comfortable. After a brief audience warm-up, Channel 8’s morning show Brunch begins with host, Chloe Davis, introducing us to Women’s Week, where the whole week of episodes  will be devoted to issues that are important to women. A whole week!

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The sly and satirical ‘hot’ topics include how bad invisible panty lines are, and how to lessen the harsh reality of laugh-lines on your face. McDonald introduces us to a variety of women both in front and behind the camera of Brunch, including weather reporter Rochelle, Pamela from wardrobe and Anita from make-up.

McDonald does stellar work with her slick impersonations and the voice and demeanour of Chloe Davis in particular feel very real, as if she actually belongs in a TV show that is the love child of 60 Minutes and Frontline. This is where the humour in the show really finds its stride and feels less forced than at other times. The subtle anxieties that Davis feels about her career and future employment opportunities could even have been explored further though as they seemed to bubble on the surface of something much more poignant.

It is clear and worthwhile what McDonald is trying to say about the representation and treatment of women in the news and entertainment industry: however, by having so many characters appear throughout the one-hour show, the script feels a little disjointed and the connections we seek with the characters don’t always manifest.

I felt the $10,000 cash-prize phone call segments between Davis and “bogan” winner Jessica Murphy could easily have been removed without impacting the show in a negative way. The scenes with the talent agent brought to the surface the issues older women face in a seemingly younger woman’s world, but the extreme way in which she was portrayed made her feel less genuine and sympathetic as a person and more of an overt caricature.

Good Morning Mofo does well in providing the laughs to the audience as it portrays a variety of interesting women all trying to make it in the cutthroat television industry and struggling to be treated as equals regardless of gender, age or appearance. With some refinement over whose story McDonald is working to explore, these important concerns will become stronger, clearer and resonate even more with the audience.

Good Morning Mofo was performed at the Malthouse Theatre as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival between 23 March – 17 April.