John Thompson

Review: Sarah Kendall: Get Up, Stand Up – Pleasance Two, Edinburgh.

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Sarah Kendall | Giggle Beats

Sarah Kendall

Aussie comic Sarah Kendall was a regular fixture at the Fringe in the noughties as she honed her brand of gently acerbic and delightfully crafted observational stand up. That lead to a Perrier nod, the first for a female act in 9 years, in 2004. However this year’s show, Get Up, Stand Up is her first offering for half a decade as she returns to the Fringe having taken time away to start a family.

The break has not blunted her comedy chops one jot, as the show begins with an extremely funny and self-deprecating routine about the absurdity of gushing Fringe reviews. Setting the tone for the rest of the show, it’s accessible material that’s well observed, made to look daft by the Aussie’s scornful angle on it, before she turns it into something truly silly with the odd left field idea.

Playful stuff aside, Kendall then delves into the meat of Get Up, Stand Up,  where she discusses her new role as a mother, sexism, her impending late-thirties and her vision for the world her daughter will grow up in, all tied together by Kendall’s misgivings over the moral standards set by the children’s tale The Ugly Duckling.

The joy of this show is the consistent excellence of the writing. The laughs are regular throughout, and whilst there was never one specific moment or gag that had me snorting beer through my nose, Kendall is clearly a very funny comic, and shows off a special knack for turning seemingly pedestrian sets ups around with interesting  twists to her punch lines.

Stand out routines included her frank assessment of smacking toddlers, taking on younger, prettier contemporaries in the acting world and her concerns about the over sexualisation of children through Rap/R&B music videos. Here, Kendall takes us on an absurd trip through her vision for a music video staring rapper Pitbull that eschews the classic combination of bisexual hoes, bling and guns. It’s deeply amusing stuff and she manages to mock rap culture without resorting to tired clichés or sounding like a stuffy old fart – take note comedians over 40.

This corking routine is followed immediately by another cracker as she regales the sold out auditorium with how she meekly dealt with base misogyny from a fruit seller in Soho. It’s more funny and scathing material that neatly acts as a springboard for a triumphant finale which, in the style of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’, ties up the show’s themes, complete with some neatly woven-in call backs.

Seemingly having reached the natural conclusion to the show, Kendall then reads to us her own version of The Ugly Duckling, again incorporating the ideas she has spent the last 50 minutes discussing. It’s a slightly strange choice and whilst it has a couple of corking lines in, possibly makes the show a 3-4 minutes longer than it should be – and lacks the conclusive spectacle of the rallying speech.

This is a minor foible, though, in what is a very accomplished and hugely enjoyable hour of comedy as Kendall returns to Edinburgh with aplomb. If observational stand up is your cup of tea, book a ticket now.

Date of live review: Saturday 11th August 2012