Sarah Kendall: One-Seventeen

comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Sarah Kendall
Published 20 Aug 2017

Sometime soon, I'm sure, a retrospective of Kendall's work will mean some detailed poring over her output. Having developed a distinct narrative style of comedy over a number of years, there's inevitably a process of dry academicism required to place her shows in a heirarchy, to chart the development and flowering of a mature storytelling side, to analyse the techniques and structures she works with. For now, it's more than enough to marvel at the way she manages multiple intersecting narratives, and to appreciate the way she weaves these into an emotional sucker-punch. One rarely expects to go into a comedy show and be transformed.

However, this is about the third time I've been transformed by Sarah Kendall. Each time, though, her handling of large structures becomes more deft. In One-Seventeen, we're introduced to some key themes via some gentle standup, which moves imperceptibly into a series of short narratives. A common thread runs through each asking us to look to the stars, but it's unclear how they link otherwise – though each is utterly engaging. They are kept separate, dislocated by place and time. Her signposting here ("It is Friday night on the other side of the world") serves both the pace and the structure beautifully. Separate, that is, until about the last 40 seconds, when they are crashed together into an open-hearted, wide-eyed expression of humanity. Form and content combine perfectly here, the power of the sentiment heightened by the chutzpah of just how long Kendall is able to keep multiple balls in the air before catching them.

So, thanks, Sarah. Honestly, you go into a comedy show expecting a few cheap laughs and come out with wet eyes and a hurty heart. It's just not fair.