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Sarah Kendall

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

Usually one of the brighter, wittier comics on the circuit, Sarah Kendall disappoints by phoning in a distinctly below-par show for this year's Fringe.

Her engaging, self-effacing and chatty style keeps the show afloat ­ just ­ but there's little of substance to back it up.

The theme is one of social awkwardness: her inability to remember people's names or the way she 'zones out' of conversations only to leap back in with a completely inappropriate comment.

Her response to such unease is usually to lie her way into a more interesting persona, culminating in her claim to wedding-party guests that she spoke both Chinese dialects and that she once died for 15 minutes, if you can believe that.

Other foot-in-mouth moments she relates include what turned out to be a very inappropriate heckle put-down, another example she claims of her inconsiderate behaviour. Yet in this show, she's very concerned about her audience's well-being: handing around ice cubes and asking if we'd like the fire escape opened to combat the furnace-like conditions.

It's that natural bonhomie again, the very thing that props up the material in its weakest moments. Yet she seems inordinately proud of the most formulaic gags like '50 Cent? He'd be called 29 Pence over here", and there cannot be an Australian alive who hasn't noticed that the fact that flip-flops are called thongs back home.

Phoney ad breaks that segment the material aren't especially well thought-out either, save for a brilliant satire of the L'Oreal-style ads that play on women's vanity and insecurities. In fact, they seem like devices to help extended an accomplished half-hour into a watered-down hour.

Kendall's such an easy-going technician that she still gets the laughs; but then the audience guffaw simply when they hear the words 'erectile disfunction', so they are not exactly a faultless guide to smart material.

A lot is forgiven in her impressive and silly finale in which he proves a virtuoso on the air harmonica, but this remains a lacklustre show from a performer who can do a lot better.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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