Sarah Kendall: Paper Planes – Edinburgh Fringe

Everyone has a different concept of what comedy should be. For some it is the peddling of gags, for others a surrealist dreamscape. For me, at its finest and purest, comedy should simply be talking about something and making it feel beautiful and important, as well as being funny.

Sarah Kendall may be as close to a perfect comic as you could find. For those of you who have been following this site for a while, you will know my love for her 2016, and 2017 Fringe shows, both of which I gave five stars. You would think with that, no show could live up to my expectations, yet here she has managed to do it again. 

Paper Planes is a show about the weight of the world bearing down on you, and how that kills the magic of a simple story. Obviously this is a problem for a storyteller such as Kendall, leading to issues with her book deadlines, and dealing with explaining the world to her young daughter. This fairly simple premise, beautifully told through the structuring of chapters, is so wonderfully draped in long-form storytelling and some of the most perfectly-worded crudity you will see at this festival. The writing is so crisp and on point, feeling more like a theatrical script than a stand-up show, and the performance is there to match. Few comics can do as much with an eyebrow raise or a look off to the side as Kendall can. 

The material this year is almost frustratingly on point. A hilarious rant against Chekhov’s Three Sisters is always likely to appeal, even if it does leave you furiously wishing she would reveal the identity of a certain nineties sitcom star (my money is on Neil Morrissey). Later, the paranoid anxiety of being asked to switch flights, which sounds like the crude observation of a more by-the-numbers comic, is timed wonderfully and amps up at exactly the right velocity to leave you hooked on every word. There is a certain level of mining the everyday here, even a trip to Centre Park leaves tears of laughter, and a weirdly deep takeaway instead of what could have been a dull routine.  That is my main take away from a Kendall show essentially, that never have I seen a comic with better pacing of material, or who demands your attention on every word. 

I worry that I may be coming across with slight sycophancy here, but I do this job because I truly love comedy. I have obsessively collected comedy albums since I was a small child, I have consumed comedy so voraciously since I have known what comedy was, and no comic has ever left me with as much pure joy as Sarah Kendall. See this show.


Paper Planes runs until the 25th of August – buy tickets here.


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Scott Redmond

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