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Sarah Campbell: Isn't It Fun???

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

It’s never a good sign when you have to fill in paperwork before a show, as it foreshadows the one thing worse than audience participation... the threat of audience participation. Campbell – who makes much of her resemblance to a 12-year-old boy – gets us to anonymously fill in slips explaining what activity we think is the most fun we could have. Then she draws them out and tries to guess who wrote what. Thanks to some amazing guesswork from one woman in the back row today, she generates some great, spontaneous material. But still, it’s a relief when the show proper – her first full-length solo offering – begins.

As is by now obvious, this is going to be an hour all about fun, which doesn’t necessarily sit well with her demeanour. Even without doing much to justify it, she exudes a disconcertingly intense, nerdy air, then confesses she is the very opposite of happy-go-lucky. ‘Gloomy-go-doomy,’ she calls it.

She hates films, facials and festivals as well as some other things that don’t alliterate so conveniently, and makes her case as to why. The tone is one of incredulity that such nonsense as beauty treatments are not only allowed to happen, but people pay good money for them.

Campbell finds her joy in other ways, and chief among them is seeking out the most bizarre reviews on Trip Advisor. Reading out comments other people have left on the internet does feel a little like cheating, but she’s found one especially weird toilet-based piece of feedback, to which she adds her own sardonic flavouring.

As someone who’s written for Russell Howard’s Good News, Have I Got News For You and Radio 4’s Newsjack, Campbell knows how to construct a solid routine. Killer punchlines are thin on the ground, but she has a naturally witty way of expressing her frustrations in an enjoyable conversational style, peppered with sharp asides.

There’s also enough form to the collection of anecdotes and gripes to give the show a message – enjoy what ever makes you happy regardless of convention, basically – and an epiphany she had in that most spiritual of places: the London to Glasgow Megabus.

So in answer to the question she poses in the show title: Yes. Yes it is.

Review date: 20 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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