Sara Schaefer: Little White Box | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett
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Sara Schaefer: Little White Box

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett

American comedian Sara Schaefer can thank Jesus for her comedy. Well, not Jesus so much as the strange Christian upbringing that had such an influence, not necessarily good, in her formative years.

Her show’s title, Little White Box, is a reference to a creepy song she used to sing at Bible camp about a portable container she could carry her Lord and saviour around in, just one of her hilariously odd scrapes with the church that she’s free of now.  

Or at least up to a point: the religious right was instrumental in the rise of Trump, and their tight hold on American politics, and therefore everyone else, is terrifying. As a self-identifying ‘libtard’ she has to speak out about such things, which culminates in the best tale of the night, about how cutesy craft store chain Hobby Lobby is run by hardcore nutjobs, using the sales of nicknacks to advance its fundamentalist agenda. It’s not a news story that got much traction this side of the Atlantic, so comes as a revelation – while her act of rebellion is small and ineffectual, but witty.

This is one of several extended yarns in a storytelling show that exposes some absurdities in the world and in her life in a warm and gentle way. It’s fitting that it’s such a casual vibe given that her clarion cry is for all the extremists to ‘turn it down one notch’ – even if she concedes she’s probably fighting a losing battle on that. There’s a comforting certainty in extreme positions on whichever side, that you don’t get in the unpredictable realm of compromise, nuance and empathy in the middle.

But Schaefer is a good advert for moderation; her likeable low-key demeanour has bags of charm and draws you into her tales. She was an MTV host, presenting the talk show, Nikki & Sara Live alongside Nikki Glaser back in the day, but she’s as far from the manic energy of the pop music broadcaster as you could hope to be.

Instead, she is an appealing storyteller, able to extract anything that’s off-kilter in her world and share it with colourful detail, from the night terrors she suffers to the death of her mother, adding another touch of the serious to underpin the more light-hearted anecdotes.

Review date: 9 Aug 2017
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