Does her first date still wear gloves during sex? Are gynaecologists clairvoyant on matters of mental health when staring up a vag? And where, oh where, have Big Aussie Things hidden the Big Poo?
Her therapist might not have called Thalia-Joan back when she said she was going to use him in her show. But never mind. Her first Zoom session with Michael (that’s his name, Michael) is the journey we are all privileged, and perhaps a little unnerved, to re-live.
“Lock the doors,” she deadpans at the start, then laughs gaily.
With the consummately relaxed self-assurance of the comic doyenne, Thalia-Joan proceeds through an emotional dumpage of personal traumas and dysfunctions, sometimes accompanied by PowerPoint slides, and self-indulged with just one rap number. Long-sleeved and vested above yellow plaid pants, tiny plastic hair clips holding back her hair, she looks as though she has just breezed in from one of Australian Fashion Week’s more eclectic label catwalks taking place a couple of suburbs over this week. The presentation is a wonderful match for her comedic style – bold, a little chaotic yet under some mysterious gestalt, surprisingly appealing.
There is madness here, but it is magnificently maintained. Thalia-Joan is the queen of the high-functioning unhinged, an artiste in oversharing. So calmly acquainted with the blitzkrieg of barmy that can sometimes be her life on the precipice of thirty, she’s able to groom her mania, slap it on its flanks with a lazy hand and parade it around with self-aware pride. It’s very entertaining and – well, speaking for myself I guess – relatable.
In a tone set to brightly self-deprecating but shameless, we are taken on traumatic car rides, introduced to the idea of the male "nothing box" and, without restraint, find ourselves serving as the backing chorus to her Big Things obsession.
Michael advises her to treat life like a game. Which game, though? The sexually tense Twister? He tells her to trust her gut. She has IBS.
While most of Ex-pectations is delivered with a blithe and gregarious spirit, the hinges do appear to loosen towards the final quarter in which the funny voices come out and impersonations possess her. (Somewhere in my soul I will always be laughing at her reenactment of the pre-Tinder era, when dating meant staggering up like a horny zombie to a stranger at a bar.) At this stage, it seems, she trusts us enough to let some of those manic bubbles surface and pop.
As she well should. This is a show about consciously decoupling from society’s expectations – around how you should think, what you should aspire to, what normie milestones you should have achieved ‘x’ years after being plopped into this weird state of living. And around gender, too. It is a liberating message for all the deviants and misfits – who really are the best and most interesting kind of people, as individuals and in community.
Expectations trigger life crises. But Ex-pectations is *chef’s kiss*.
Ex-pectations by Thalia-Joan runs until Sunday May 15 at the Factory Theatre, Marrickville as part of the Sydney Comedy Festival 2022. Book your tickets here.