Sarah Callaghan: an ambitious debut

Tom Slater

Tom Slater

Topics Culture

Sarah Callaghan is going places. Not literally. After wowing audiences at the last few Fringes, the 24-year-old stand-up returns this year with her debut hour. But for all the five-star ratings, plaudits and award nods, she’s still stuck at home.

Elephant is set in her bedroom, a prison-cell-sized single in her mum’s house in Uxbridge, west London. Everything taunts her with the promise of escape – from the photos of better times on her wardrobe to the flights taking off from Heathrow.

Callaghan’s stock-in-trade is sweary, precision-timed punchlines slung with a tough-kid swagger. But there’s depth here, too. While she waxes lyrical about the struggles of being young today, she always resists the urge to whine.

This is a paean to aspiration. ‘I’ve got this disorder, it’s called ambition’, she says, before ripping the piss out of her old schoolmates for aspiring to little more than a baby and a council house; a routine so uncompromising it led one Guardian reviewer more or less to call her a class traitor.

But this is not a show about shitting on where you come from. It’s about wanting to move on to bigger and better things. And if Callaghan keeps turning out shows this polished, it won’t be long before she’s out of the box room for good.

Tom Slater is assistant editor at spiked.

Sarah Callaghan: Elephant is at the Pleasance Courtyard until 30 August.

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Topics Culture


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