Sandra Hale presents herself as kind of a Bad Grandma type. She may have reached her late 60s, but that doesn’t mean she can’t drink, smoke and explore dalliances with other men if she wants. But unlike a lot of these types of acts, Sandra’s dominating feature is that she needs your applause. She doesn’t want it very badly, she needs it in the same way most of us need water, air, or food. This desperation is meant to be funny, however, not unlike the way I feel when a Jehovah’s Witness bangs at my door, it ends up making me feel pity over all else. When you integrate a tap dance number entirely unironically into your show, I think it may be time to consider a different tack.

Sandra Hale isn’t fundamentally unfunny, but her show needs more work to be something I could recommend.

That isn’t to say her show is entirely unfunny, because that is fundamentally untrue. The problem I see is that the intro to most of her jokes are funnier than the actual execution. And while some bits, like her dominatrix material, had me howling with laughter, I fear the overall structure of the show doesn’t suit her ability as a comic well. Her delivery is slow and considered, while the writing overall suits a quicker pace of speech. And for every great joke, there were moments where I sat just a bit bored.

It’s difficult to say, because I recognise that this character isn’t meant for me. But if I was to ask myself the question “did I think the hour I spent was worth my time,” I don’t know if I would say yes. Sandra Hale isn’t fundamentally unfunny, but her show needs more work to be something I could recommend.  

Reviews by Miles Hurley

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Self Helpless! is a show filled with insights that will help you get through life, providing you have good looks, no opinions and can tap dance. Sandra Hale is a self-help guru like no other. In fact, she’s no guru at all. She’s survived. That’s enough. We can't all be confident, moralistic and principled, so if, like Sandra, you are shallow, needy and an exaggerator, then this show is for you.

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