Sarah Kendall: War

Note: This review is from 2001

Review by Steve Bennett

An instant way to comedy credibility is to talk intelligently about a serious subject, bringing instant gravitas and depth to your act.

And there can be few topics more serious than war. This gives the chance for a poignant edge to the comedy (think Blackadder Goes Forth) - but, of course, provides the risk of crass insensitivity (Heil Honey, I'm Home!).

Bright Aussie comic Sarah Kendall deftly picks her way through the topic with an honest fascination that could never offend, yet still keeping things light enough to avoid a dependence on any maudlin sentimentality.

It's obvious she has a genuine interested in the subject, and has certainly done plenty of background reading. Much of the gags come from lesser-known facts she's unearthed through such inqusitiveness, and the show is an education, as well as entertainment, about the causes of conflicts and those who start them.

Although focussing on the First and Second World Wars, this engaging routine ranges from Braveheart (aptly enough for Scotland) to the influence of CNN on modern warfare.

It does mean the show jumps around a bit, with disparate ideas being thrown into the mix, at the expense of allowing arguments to unfold logically. Themes do develop, though, and at least some of the ideas are tied up at the end.

The nature of the subject also slows down the joke rate, and means there are few hearty laughs.

What you do get, though, is an intelligent, thoughtful and wryly amusing exploration of ideas, passionately presented by a promising young comic willing to set her aim high rather than follow a lazy route to easy laughs.

Review date: 1 Jan 2001
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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