Why Zoe's falling for the Mardi Gras
ZOE Coombs Marr is no stranger to the bright, glittering revelry of Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
The rising comedy talent, best known for her Barry Award-winning comedy show Trigger Warning, has attended many a parade since moving to the harbour city from her native Grafton at the age of 18.
"When I was 19 I was part of a University of Wollongong float. I didn't go to the university; I just had friends who went there and I wheedled my way in," she tells The Guide.
"At one point, just past Taylor Square, there's this prime position where there's a grandstand. In front of that I jumped over the median strip and went 'I'm gay!' and tripped and stacked it really properly. It was one of those falls where you have the body memory of them."
This year, Ms Marr hopes for a less traumatic experience. She joins SBS's coverage of Mardi Gras with fellow comedian Joel Creasey and journalists Patrick Abboud and Narelda Jacobs.
"I'm not always in town for Mardi Gras, so this has worked out really nicely. I actually live just around the corner, so it's also extremely convenient. I'm thrilled to be a part of it," she says.
Founded in 1978, the Mardi Gras remains one of the world's largest and loved LGBTIQ+ celebrations. This year the festival is themed Fearless, to honour the sense of resilience, activism, protest and celebration that makes up the LGBTIQ+ community and fuels the continued fight for equality.
Being able to watch the parade on TV as a queer teen was an identity-affirming experience for Ms Marr, whose stand-up shows regularly deal with feminism and being a "cranky lesbian".
"It blew my mind when they first started televising it in the '90s," she says. "When the full parade was televised I remember it was hugely controversial. I remember watching it at home and thinking it was the event.
"When I was a kid there weren't many gay people, who were out, on television. It was amazing to see this real event that was happening with real people expressing themselves and being out. Especially being a queer kid in the country, and being isolated, being able to see yourself and other people like yourself is extremely important.
"It's a tradition at this point and a connection to queer history. It's also an expression of the way the community has changed over time."
Ms Marr will put her comedy chops to use as a roving reporter in the thick of the celebrations.
"It's not just like they just let me loose and say 'Don't fall over again' but it will be pretty fly by the seat of your pants," she says.
"You don't know who's going to be walking past and a lot of it will be spontaneous fun. Working in the moment is part of the fun of it as well."
The 2019 Mardi Gras airs on Sunday at 8.35pm on SBS-TV. A live stream of the parade will also be available on SBS On Demand and the SBS Twitter account on Saturday.