Carey Marx survived a heart attack and now he has a show about it. This is excellent news for all concerned
The actual heart attack is just one aspect of Marx’s pretty extraordinary story, which goes way beyond just “it happened, it was shit”, which it clearly was as well. If you have concerns about going to a comedy show about such a subject, let’s make it clear now that firstly it’s gripping not boring, and secondly it’s funny not morbid.
Marx has also contextualised the attack in terms of his attitude towards love, and his relationship with his wife who is 18 years his younger. Before the attack even takes place he’s railing against platitudinous claptrap such as the “all you need is love” hippie mantra, and the cosmic approaches to finding love such as leaving an empty drawer in your room. Easy targets yes, but beautifully skewered.
As a hardened touring comedian, Marx comes across as completely secure and in control, which makes it endearing and a little surprising to hear his vulnerabilities about his marriage. He became paranoid about becoming the “old man” in the relationship prematurely. He fantasises about being at home lying useless, while his wife goes out partying with her young actor friends who can all still get it up. To alleviate her boredom, Marx speculates, she will dress him up as Charlie Chaplin in the home, and he’ll be able to do nothing about it.
His titanic attempts at recovery, whether it’s getting back on the stand-up scene or trying to buy a bag of sugar to make a coffee, are heroic but prove unwise. “I can’t do comedy,” he recalls thinking, his powers temporarily drained.
And the panorama he describes when he returned to hospital, of a crazed gangster terrorising the ward, patients crying out and patients dying around him, is a wonderful bit of storytelling.
Marx had to cancel his Edinburgh show last year because of his ill health, and this show is a reminder of what a truly fantastic comic he is. It’s full of funnies, and he adroitly manages to sidestep sentimentality and triteness, even though there is a happy ending.
Review written by Paul Fleckney
• Carey Marx: Intensive Carey is at the Gilded Balloon at 10pm