'I played to Herman Goering's cousin' | Sarah Kendall recalls her Unforgettable Five gigs

'I played to Herman Goering's cousin'

Sarah Kendall recalls her Unforgettable Five gigs

First gig

My first gig was at Sydney University in 1997. I entered a student stand-up competition called 5 Minute Noodles, which took place at the student bar every Thursday lunchtime.

I don't remember what happened. My mouth was dry and I was instantly drenched in nervous sweat. I was sick with nerves and just wanted to run away and hide for the entirety of my time on stage. I took a looooooong break from the idea of ever doing stand-up again.

Best gig

I don't have one gig that stands out as 'the best', but my favourite gig is Old Rope on a Monday (at The Phoenix pub near Oxford Circus in London).

I love that club. I love that everything is new there, I love the spirit of experimenting, and I love the thrill when you feel like you've stumbled into a fresh new bit that really works.

I was in the backstage area with Mike Wilmot and Robin Ince one time, we were just talking shop, when Mike suddenly said, 'I love this. THIS is the best part of the job' I think he was quite right.

Worst gig

I think my very first corporate gig is a winner for this. I was quite a young comic back when I started out in Australia, and at the time I thought: 'Wow, why are they paying so much for a ten minute set?'

It wasn't that much money, but it was the most I had ever been paid. Then I turned up. There was no stage and no lights. They were so drunk, they talked all the way through, and I just made it off stage as the booing and heckling started. I was shell-shocked.

Gig that taught me the biggest lesson

I've previously written about a gig where I was threatened with sexual violence. I used to do material about it, and then I dropped the material.

The lesson for me was that there was a line. The threat of violence and everything that happened after that point was totally unacceptable. I had every right to walk off that stage, but I didn't because I didn't want to look like I couldn't handle it. I didn't want to look like a bad sport. Standing up for yourself is not being a 'bad sport'.

Worst and weirdest heckles

The worst heckle is when a person says something you don't quite catch, so you say, 'pardon?' and then they just go silent and smirk. Or they say, 'nothing' and then smother their laughter. It's really gutless schoolyard behaviour.

I think my most unusual heckle was during a show I did about World War Two and I was doing a section about Herman Goering. A guy in the audience piped up and said, 'He's a distant cousin of mine!', but he said it like it was a fun fact, not like he was related to one of the greatest monsters of the 20th Century.

Sarah Kendall: One-Seventeen, Assembly George Square Studios, 19:00.

Published: 13 Aug 2017

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