The Cambridge Geek

Sarah Kendall: Australian Trilogy

Sarah Kendall's original Australian Trilogy was a series of three stories from her life, covering the near-death of a classmate, childhood squabbles and her first encounter with the creative potential of lying. This follow-up takes that idea and expands it significantly, instead telling the story of a life over the course of an hour and a half, as three distinct but interwoven shows.

The theme is luck, and the idea that you can't tell if something that happens is good or bad luck until long after the event. Examples include Christa McAuliffe, the teacher selected from thousands to give a lesson from space as part of the Challenger mission, the arrival into their lives of a handy stray cat as a pet, and a rather impressive car accident. She wishes she could scroll back and forth through her life and see how things are going to turn out.

The stories in the show come from all of Kendall's life, from a childhood spent failing to spot Halley's comet in 1986 to the dementia of grandparents, a hamster that waits for a bus that never comes, people who are a bit too fond of stabbing, and her son's autism diagnosis in 2016. It's intensely personal, full of her dreams and fears, the lies she's told her parents and children and the times when she later revealed the truth.

Her parents feature heavily, being both hilarious and a cause of useful strife. Her mother's opinion of life in general, being that "the glass was half-empty and someone had rubbed their ballsack on the rim" is an excellent source of comedy, particularly with the accent she's got. Their marriage is always on the rocks, and only held together through their shared hatred of troublesome neighbours.

However, no matter how grim the situation gets, Kendall is persistently funny, frequently setting up brick jokes that pay off half an episode (or more) later. There's a lot of these, and they are always a delight when they reappear. Impressively, she manages a good mix, with them either popping back up in a surprising manner, or being telegraphed, setting up the punchline in that satisfying way which allows the audience to get there before she does.

Perhaps fittingly, I'm more than a little curious as to how much of it is actually true, given Kendall's fondness for telling stories and her delight in fooling the audience with tales she's changed to give them a better ending. Luckily, that doesn't matter, as you're here for the story, and she definitely delivers.

(It will start being broadcast on Wednesday, 22 August 2018, but it's already all available as a download. I'd recommend that as the best way to listen to it, as it will allow you to get all the running jokes and callbacks without a week to forget them. And if you happen to have missed it on the radio, you can get it from Amazon).

Score 5

Tagged: Radio Comedy Monologue Stand-up Autobiographical