There was a fashionable word in the 1950s for a certain type of female performer, which was ‘kooky’. These ladies, such as Libby Morris and Dorothy Loudon, built their acts around being breathless, scatty and disorganised,, then turned in blinding performances as serious vocalists. Liza Minelli is probably the last of that line.
Lou Sanders is kooky but she can’t sing, save for tiny off-key fragments which are an excuse for more self-deprecation. Her stand-up act, which is frugal on jokes, consists largely on a running commentary on her performance, her material, and her audience: ‘We’ve got silent laughers in. Pick it up. Smilers are no good to me.’ It’s a way of spinning out material to fill an act, pioneered by the late, great Max Wall, who knew how to do it properly.
Her delivery is throwaway - so throwaway that it throws away the laughs as well. It opens with great energy, on roller skates with a megaphone, then tops this with a fine visual joke about trying to mimic a Shirley Bassey entrance down a glass staircase, using only a stepladder. However, from then on it’s downhill.
Stand-up depends both on audience rapport and on energy levels. The rapport is broken by three tacky videos which break the contact. The energy goes with rather pointless character sketches in uncertain accents and lacking punchlines or, indeed, point. There are good one-liners but they are few and far between.
The word used most often for Sanders is ‘surreal’. It is, but of a kind of surrealism which is forced and self-conscious. It’s an acquired taste, rather like French mime. To paraphrase Winston Churchill on Clement Attlee, it’s a modest act with much to be modest about.