Sarah Kendall is, by her own admission, a liar. And as she is quick to point out, this makes her a fantastic storyteller. She is engaging, intensely likeable and – while not producing anything side-splitting – keeps the audience chortling happily throughout a very enjoyable hour.
Calmly and steadily entertaining, Shaken meanders along the thread of one coherent storyline, punctuated by digressions onto a series of well-contained and very entertaining asides. The main story is never lost however, as Kendall seamlessly returns to it, connecting the diversions with recurring jokes which nicely tie the show together. There are meta-jokes, audience interaction, physical comedy and crude humour, but there’s just a taste of each: nothing is overdone.
The show is billed as both storytelling and stand-up, and Kendall duly delivers a well-crafted hybrid of interesting anecdote and laugh-out-loud comedy. A few jokes fell flat – and there were even a couple of groans while we dwelled on toilet humour for a while – but equally there were several moments of charged silence, in which I could feel that the audience was hanging on Kendall’s every word. She skilfully draws us into her story and her world of fiction (or was it fact?), creating a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere.
The only real let-down is the ending. Kendall warned us from the very beginning that the final gag would rely on the audience’s phone reception, which is an unfortunate twist in an underground venue. When the time came we nervously refreshed our screens during a minute of awkward silence, hoping that the punchline would be worth all this desperate scrabbling for signal. It wasn’t. The point was quite obvious, and could surely have been made though some other, more reliable means.
That glitch aside, Shaken is built of an evenly-balanced, consistent kind of comedy. With over a decade and a half of experience, Sarah Kendall is a talented comedian who forsakes high-energy antics in favour of a relaxed and likeable confidence. She seemed to enjoy her hour on the stage – and I, for one, did too.