For Kate Jinx and Zoe Coombs Marr, it wasn’t necessarily love at first sight. Or even friendship.

“I was quite rude,” says Coombs Marr, laughing. “I wasn’t mean or anything – just quite blunt.”

The two met while working at Sydney arts festival Imperial Panda, which Coombs Marr co-founded. Undeterred, Jinx went to Coombs Marr’s comedy show a few days later and was so impressed she recommended it to others. “I was like, ‘She’s actually very good. Though rude, she is very good.’”

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The two met again at Newcastle’s This Is Not Art Festival, where Jinx decided to shoot her shot on the dance floor. “I was like, ‘Why does this straight girl want to have coffee with me?’” laughs Coombs Marr.

“Her reaction was so blunt, she gave me her number and I deleted it,” says Jinx.

Third time was a charm, at a party a couple of years later. “It was the end of the night and I said something about my girlfriend in high school, and Zoe was like, ‘What?’”

“Pretty much from the moment I knew you were gay I pursued you quite relentlessly,” admits Coombs Marr. “I kissed you in the taxi that night. And I showed up at your work the next day with a box of rainbow Nerds, trying to win you over.”

Fourteen years on, the couple live in Fitzroy with their dog Top Chef, a “Taurean” merle poodle and “multidisciplinary artist working across genre”, according to his Instagram. The name is inspired by the American reality show but also, “We just like the idea of having a top chef in the house,” says Jinx.

The pair loves to cook, and they’re both vegan, although Jinx identifies as a “seagan” – “a slippy vegan” who dabbles in dairy and seafood when she’s travelling. In her job as a feature film and talks programmer at Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), she’s travelling a lot.

Their home is a personal patchwork of paraphernalia picked up overseas and artwork by friends, like Sydney photographer Samuel Hodge (plus a feature piece by Corita Kent AKA the Pop Art Nun). Cast your eye around the living room and every item has a funny, weird or adorable story (usually all three) attached to it. It’s the lived-in charm and character of two people who are deeply intertwined.

There’s also a bookshelf of old zines, queer books and architecture mags; a stack of vinyl including Bikini Kill and Romy; some crystals; and something I can’t quite identify. “It’s a joint smoking a banana,” they say in unison.

“Our old place in Sydney – it was a tiny art deco apartment but it was basically filled with the same stuff, and my brother-in-law’s work colleague stayed there once when we were away. Afterwards, my brother-in-law said to him, ‘Oh what did you think of their apartment?” and the guy was like, ‘It was really fruity’,” Jinx laughs. “Not the word I would have used but okay.”

“But it’s true, it’s fruity,” says Coombs Marr. “It’s a fruity apartment.”

The stylishly playful aesthetic is a combined effort, “But if I lived on my own it would be like a hellhole,” admits Coombs Marr.

“And if I lived on my own it would look exactly like this,” adds Jinx, who’s also a writer, co-host of weekly culture podcast See Also, and a regular guest critic on ABC radio.

The pair moved from Sydney to Melbourne in March 2020 (“really cool timing,” says Jinx) when she joined the MIFF team. While that job – and her ongoing role as director of programming for Sydney’s Golden Age Cinema – continued online, comedian Coombs Marr was unable to tour. So she started brewing beer. “I had to stop that because I drank all the beer. I drank 20 litres of beer in a week.”

She also started work on Queerstralia, her unconventional AACTA-nominated ABC documentary series about the untold queer history of Australia (which Jinx did some early research on). Beyond her TV appearances, the comic (“she/her with a they/them rising”) is best known for her meta and subversive stand-up shows like Bossy Bottom (on Amazon Prime) and her lecherous alter-ego Dave – a response to the rampant misogyny in the comedy scene – complete with patchy facial hair and neckbeard.

Her latest show, Every Single Thing In My Whole Entire Life, is her most personal set yet. “I realised I hadn’t really talked about my own life on stage,” she says. “And I thought, ‘Oh maybe I have quite a lot of material here that’s completely untapped’ … Also, I turned 40 in October and I feel like I have the licence to tell some stories now.”

The show, which debuted at Adelaide Fringe this year before seasons in Melbourne and Sydney, is something of a “stocktake” of her life, mining memories, minutiae, journals and old notes to categorise her existence into an Excel spreadsheet with tabs titled “hook-ups”, “bad art”, “injuries/accidents”, “times my sisters have tried to kill me”, and more.

“I actually talk a little bit more about Kate and our relationship in this show than I have in the past,” says Coombs Marr. “Based on what the audience is interested in, or what I’m interested in that night, different stories come up. Like, people can go, ‘Oh what’s the Cate Blanchett story?’ Or, ‘What does Toilet MacGyver mean?’”

It returns to the stage as part of Replay Festival before she takes it overseas. Jinx can’t be there on opening night though – by chance, MIFF’s 2024 program is launching the same evening.

Twenty-four of the 250-plus films have already been announced, among them, wacky horror Cuckoo starring Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer; Cannes Critics’ Week award winner Blue Sun Palace, about three working-class Chinese immigrants in New York; and horror-drama I Saw the TV Glow, featuring music by Caroline Polachek and appearances by Phoebe Bridgers and Fred Durst. Jinx is particularly excited about the doco Welcome Space Brothers, which follows a group of “cosmic visionaries” who believe in higher planes, therapy and movie-making. “It’s a film I’ve been talking to [the director] about for years and years and years,” she says.

There’s a “Venn diagram” of the sorts of films Jinx and Coombs Marr both like. “We have a shared note in the notes app, called Movie Time,” says Coombs Marr. “There’s funny old comedies on there – like recently we watched What’s Up Doc? with Barbra Streisand.

“I’ve put on there how long each of them is. I dont have the attention span Kate does … but I would also say you don’t have the same tolerance for comedy that I do.”

“Oh absolutely not,” Jinx agrees.

Sitting across from the couple is kind of like getting a front-row seat to an intimate, silly, tender comedy show. They often finish each other’s sentences, unconsciously taking turns setting up a story before the other instinctively throws in the punchline. But despite the proximity of their creative and professional lives, there’s still one key boundary in place.

“My god, if you were a comedian. I mean, I would never date a comedian,” says Coombs Marr.

“I was about to say I would never date a comedian, but I do,” Jinx laughs.

Every Single Thing in My Whole Entire Life is on at Comedy Republic on July 11 and 12. MIFF returns from August 8 to 25. Tickets go on sale on July 11.

Read more in our Creative Couples series.