Sarah Kendall: A Day In October [Melbourne] | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review by Steve Bennett

Sarah Kendall: A Day In October [Melbourne]

Note: This review is from 2015

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review by Steve Bennett

A Day In October is in content and style a natural progression from Sarah Kendall’s last festival show, Touchdown, as she matures from stand-up to storytelling.

It shares the high school setting of its prequel, moving ahead a couple of years to 1990 when the teenage Kendall, still a social outcast in Newcastle, New South Wales, but now with a fetching gherkin aroma thanks to her weekend job at McDonald’s, found someone even more unpopular than herself.

She struck up a friendship, of sorts, with the put-upon George, though she would never acknowledge that in public, fearing that the relentless bullying he was subjected to may be contagious. However everything in the school hierarchy changed with a fateful school camping trip…

Kendall is a charming, vivid and absorbing storyteller who effortlessly takes her audiences to the time, place and emotional states she depicts. This yarn, however, offers less obvious comic potential than its bittersweet Breakfast-Club-like predecessor, and the humour doesn’t always sit quite so easily with the compelling story.

A couple of the more clearly-defined jokes come as callbacks to a preamble about an encounter with a Dutch tourist, modest about his impeccable English, earlier in the day. But the gags don’t quite come off as they take us out of the narrative – and expose the apparently spontaneous introductory conversation as the practised routine it really is. The other part of her stand-up ice-breaker is a solid, if over-extended, routine about the suspension of disbelief required of a scene in Aliens, which is nothing to do with the rest of the show, despite Kendall’s best attempts to crowbar a link about the editing of stories.

Whatever edits she’s made to her central tale certainly keep the listener engaged, as she artfully describes teenage life in a decaying town; the isolation of anyone who doesn’t fit a cruelly imposed norm and a supporting cast from alcoholic teachers to giant mechanical chickens. And a key narrative twist adds to the sense that this is a classy 50 minutes of storytelling.

Whether it works as comedy is more moot. There are wryly funny details in her descriptions, but other jokes seem bolted-on. Despite Kendall’s accomplished stand-up credentials, a comedy festival show is perhaps not the perfect outlet for this – although an anthology of short stories would most definitely be. Publishers take note,

Review date: 1 Apr 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.