views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Saban and Sarah Do Stand-up
Etcetera Theatre
15th August 2015


Publicity image for Saban and Sarah Do Stand-up

Photography provided by Saban Kazim and Sarah Sheldon

There's no clever play on words in the title of their show; Saban and Sarah Do Stand-up is an hour of Saban Kazim and Sarah Sheldon doing stand up. You pretty much get what you pay for. The two comedians kick off the night in a deliberately psuedo-ramshackle way, with a predictable but enjoyable take on the usual dilemma of what to do without a separate MC on hand to introduce the acts. The audience play along with Kazim and Sheldon's fake-panicked opening, with a friendly and fun atmosphere immediately established. We may we missing a bit of Fergie and the boys, but tonight certainly has the signs of it going to be a good night.

With her head tilted to one side and her forehead furrowed anxiously, Sheldon constantly looks worried that something might actually happen. As she tells us at great length, she much prefers it when nothing does. Her set mostly revolves around her Nana, with the odd flourish of beige. It's amazing how much material she can get out of her relationship with a 93-year-old, with subtopics ranging from fashion advice to children's books, yet for a woman who supposedly never does anything, she never runs out of anything to say. Sheldon constantly keeps us giggling at her apparent disinterest in doing stuff and is very warm and likeable.

In direct contrast to Sheldon's demeanour, Kazim is incredibly relaxed, with the kind of easy-going nature that suggests he's just rolled out of bed backstage, done no preparation whatsoever and is going to have a go winging it. Of course, this simply isn't true, he's spent a lot of time honing his stories about his mixed heritage, things that took place in a kebab shop once, and his day job as a graphic designer. His breezy delivery goes down well with the audience, who initially find him quite funny, just not raucously so. However, he then repeats his anecdotes and through lines on seemingly eternal loops, wearing us down until we suddenly find ourselves roaring with laughter, unsure why we're laughing so much. There's probably some official syndrome for this. If there isn't, there should be.

A great example of Kazim's intentional repetitiveness is the message from the show's sponsor, Mr Hummus, with its charmingly dodgy graphics and animation. In Kazim's pre-recorded spoof ad, he essentially tells the same joke over and over again. When he finally moves onto something else, he still references it back, taking great care to keep a narrative arc in his storytelling. It may be a jumble of inconsequential things that happened to him, but he makes it feel more curated than that.

In Kazim's inimitably casual style, there are only a few things left to say. So, I saw an hour-long comedy set by Kazim and Sheldon. It was quite good and I laughed a lot. So that's what happened.

Saban and Sarah Do Stand-up opened on 15th August and runs until 16th August 2015 at the Etcetera Theatre, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)

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