Instinctive stars make perfect audience bond

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Sarah Kendall and Raymond Mearns,

The Stand

ONE OF the great joys of live comedy - and the one thing that makes this such a unique form of entertainment - is when a performer forms a close bond with an audience.

Take, for example, Raymond Mearns and Sarah Kendall. The first a large, loud and in-your-face Glaswegian who hosted last night’s show at The Stand. The second, a somewhat more laidback performer who hails from the opposite side of the world - and in more ways than one.

Both connected with the audience in different ways and each to good effect. Mearns has always been a master at working a crowd, but in recent months he has added a new sense of professionalism and positivity to what could sometimes be a more hit-and-miss act. Consequently, he has found a level of consistency that few can match.

This guy gets better every time you see him and last night was a masterclass in how to compere a gig. Occasionally aggressive, but never too offensive, Mearns instinctively knows just how far he can push it.

Instinct also plays a huge part in Sarah Kendall’s success. This fine Aussie comic knows when the audience is on her side and, once she has them in her grasp, she knows they will follow her wherever she may choose to lead them.

She talks of suicide leapers onto train tracks and they’re laughing all the way. She talks of life’s failures and humiliations and they’re loving every minute. She discusses the depressing ennui of existence and still they’re having a grand old time of it. What does she have to do to put an audience on a downer?

A large part of Kendall’s success is her mastery of self-deprecation. It has been said that every good joke must always have a victim and she invariably casts herself in that role. In so doing, she reminds the audience of the fallibility in us all and, more importantly, that it’s okay to laugh when we fail. In fact, it's nothing less than essential.

For every tale she tells of spectacular humiliation in oh-so-public situations, we all remember a dozen more of our own that we have tried so hard to forget. And thus the bond is formed. We all make mistakes.

We're all human. And if we sometimes find it hard to laugh at ourselves, then thank God there are people like Mearns and Kendall around to make it a whole lot easier.