After a short run at the Butterfly Club in August, N3rd.Girl is back to kick more zombie butt. The camouflage-wearing, zombie-killing, all-singing, sometimes-dancing alter ego of 22-year-old Jen Coles returns to the Club for another two shows over Halloween weekend.

“It was the Club’s idea [to have another run],” Coles explains. “Kim [Edwards, the show’s director] sent them a message suggesting a Halloween run, and they thought it was a good idea, and got in touch… The subject matter is definitely appropriate for a Halloween!”

The premise of the show, N3rd.Girl vs the Zombie Apocalypse, is that the world has come under zombie attack and that Coles and her audience are the last surviving humans, and this does seem to make it a prime candidate for a Halloween show. Edwards is back on board for this, as is Rowland Brache`, the talented accompanist and sometime sidekick. The cabaret covers everything from zombie relationships to what one should do in the likely event of finding a zombie in one’s house. Coles co-opts Zombieland’s Rules, performs songs as diverse as Disney and Weird Al Yankovic, and treats the audience to a rendition of Thriller to fool the zombie hordes into thinking she’s one of them. But she also wears her gaming nerd credentials on her sleeve and is not adverse to the odd Resident Evil reference.

“The show went really well [last time]!” she says. “I was really surprised that people who weren’t nerds or die-hard zombie fans came along and still found the material really amusing…  I was worried the material wasn’t as funny to a mainstream audience. I was honestly just expecting my mates to show up and giggle at Resident Evil jokes- but it was more than that, I was so happy!”

She says she also learnt a lot from the first round and has made a couple of small changes to the script based on the audience’s reaction, but these are “only … to make the show run a bit smoother.” Most of the original script remains the same. Coles says that the main point of difference from the first show lies in her interaction with the audience. “I learnt a lot about … how to work with [the audience], and indeed, comedy in general.” She says that the biggest lesson she learnt was that the material was less important than the level of commitment of the performer: “[I learnt] that it doesn’t matter so much what you’re presenting or who your audience is, as long as you commit to it fully and make the best of it, you’ll have a good time.”

She says that the intimacy of cabaret was particularly appealing to her, and this, combined with the humour of the show and large doses of audience interaction, led to several funny moments. “There’s a point in the show where I sing Weird Al’s ‘Do I Creep You Out’ to a male member of the audience in a bogus attempt at seduction. It’s a pretty creepy song, but nonetheless funny. The guy I pick is usually the one who is hiding behind his mate… I sing the last line, “Do I creep you out?” and it’s a big finish to the guy, who usually says nothing or just laughs. One replied, “a little bit!” Kim informed me afterwards that his friends were screaming ‘Dude! You got a song!!!’”

Coles works as a private singing teacher and studies photography when she’s not performing in cabaret or killing zombies, and is looking at touring the show around the country. “That should be exciting,” she says. “Apparently there are lots of zombies hanging around Australia!”

N3rd.Girl Vs The Zombie Apocalypse is on 10:30pm on 28 and 29 October, at the Butterfly Club, 2-4 Bank St, South Melbourne. Ph 9690 2000.
$22 Full, $19 Conc, $18 for groups