Sarah Kendall: Stands up
By Caro Moses | Published on Wednesday 8 August 2012
Comedian Sarah Kendall is a long term ThreeWeeks favourite. In fact, we like her so much that back in 2007 we gave her one of our ThreeWeeks Editors’ Awards.
Though in recent years we’ve seen a little less of her on stage, so are delighted to see she’s back with a brand new show at the Fringe this year, where she’ll be touching on some very interesting issues about the world in which she and her young daughter are now living. ThreeWeeks spoke to Sarah about her life, her work, and owning a small child…
CM: You’ve performed off and on at the Festival for nearly a decade, I think? What keeps you coming back?
SK: I think the thing that keeps me coming back to this festival is that I love doing a huge amount of work and I also enjoy haemorrhaging money! I definitely have a love-hate relationship with it. The weird thing is that each year when the Festival draws to a close, I get genuinely sad that it’s over for another year. It’s like at the end of ‘Platoon’ when Charlie Sheen is choppered out of Vietnam, and he starts crying. It’s exactly like that.
CM: You live in the UK now, but recently sold out a tour of Australia. Do you miss your home country, or ever feel like going back?
SK: I’ve lived in London for 12 years now, so I feel very at home in both places. When I’m here, I miss Australia, when I’m in Australia, I miss the UK. It’s like Charlie Sheen at the end of ‘Platoon’. He’s happy to go home, but he’s really going to miss his buddies in Vietnam. It’s exactly like that.
CM: The new show touches on the topic of bringing up a little girl in a highly sexualised culture. Is this a major theme of the show?
SK: Yes, the show deals with a lot of topics that I feel strongly about. Things have got pretty bad in recent years, absurdly bad in fact. Pole dancing for fitness, the way women are portrayed in music videos, the role of women in fairy tales, the crap that is marketed at girls on kids TV channels…. I suddenly realised that my daughter is this tiny sponge, absorbing all of these appalling messages.
CM: Did you find that having a daughter heightened your awareness of the sexualisation of popular culture, or of issues of gender and sexism in general?
SK: It’s not so much that it heightened my awareness, because I’ve always been very aware of these issues. But when I went back to doing stand-up, I felt that whatever I was doing on stage had to be worth my time. It’s a huge strain dragging your family around festivals, and I decided that whatever I did had to be something worth talking about.
CM: What else can we expect from the show?
SK: A cameo from an Oscar-winning Hollywood legend. I’m lying.
CM: Will your daughter be up in Edinburgh with you? How easy is it to combine being a stand-up with being a parent?
SK: Stand-up is surprisingly child friendly, because most of my work takes place at night. Day care has never been a massive issue. And of course I’ve brought her with me to Edinburgh! I’d hate to be away from her, it’d be awful. I’d probably end up doing things like reading books in cafés, or I’d go to the movies, and exercise, and get a decent night’s sleep, and go out for dinner in a nice restaurant and not eat my entire meal in under three minutes because she’s bored and has started trying to wear the table cloth as a fairy skirt, and I wouldn’t have small pieces of food in my hair and on my clothes ALL THE TIME.
CM: In recent years you’ve appeared on TV and radio. How does this sort of work compare to stand-up? Do you prefer live performance?
SK: They’re very different. The thing I like most about stand-up is that you’re in complete control. You’re the writer, director, producer, and performer, so you make all the decisions. In my limited experience with TV, there are a lot of people who get involved in that decision making process, and it’s not always people who know what they’re doing.
CM: Appearing in ‘Clare In The Community’ on Radio 4 meant taking on an actual ‘role’, rather than doing stand-up – are you ever tempted to make a move into acting and take on more roles like these?
SK: ‘Clare In The Community’ is possibly the most fun I’ve had on any TV or radio production. It’s such a joy – so yes, I’d be tempted to do more, but only if it’s as much fun as that.
CM: Do you have plans for your latest show after Edinburgh? Will it be touring?
SK: I’ll be doing a run in London, and hopefully a small tour after that. Then I’m going to commission the show to be adapted as a film script, and I will cast Charlie Sheen to play me. And it will be set in Vietnam. And Willem Dafoe will die. But it won’t be like ‘Platoon’.
CM: Which other acts are you planning to see this year?
SK: I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t even looked at the Fringe guide yet. So I’ll take a guess at who’s going to be at the Fringe this year, and say Linda Ronstadt and Peter Ustinov.
Sarah Kendall performed ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ at Pleasance Courtyard at Fringe 2012.