Kendra Cunningham is a Great Storyteller
by Ricky Pope Jul. 30, 2021
I came from this big Irish Catholic co-dependent family. So we weren’t rich. We didn’t have trust funds. We barely had trust.
The search for trust seems to be the persistent theme of most of Kendra Cunningham’s stories. She confided in us that she was reading self-help books before she was out of middle school. And that she’s a big believer in affirmations. So much so that she left a card containing a personal affirmation at each table of the cabaret room at Don’t Tell Mama, where she has done 7 sold-out performances of her show THIS COULD BE YOU.
Kendra Cunnigham is what would occur if Terri Garr and Mae West had a love child. She’s the first person in her family to leave her home in Boston since her grandmother immigrated from Lithuania. Cunningham doesn’t have to tell you she’s from Boston. Her accent tells the whole story. Her show is an hour of expert standup, that details what happened once she left her family in Massachusetts to make her way in the Big Rotten Apple. It’s a story of bad dates, terrible therapists, and a lot of retail therapy. And those affirmations. It’s a story about a decade of searching for happiness and a decent man. Spoiler alert, she seems to have found both.
One highlight as an example. She has a hysterical story about going to a bachelorette party at a male strip club. In order to separate herself from the desperate rabble of bridesmaids, she dresses in a sophisticated outfit to fool the strippers into thinking she was a very wealthy sugar mama. Her plan works perfectly and she gets the attention of every stripper in the place until one of them egregiously mistakes her for the mother of the bride. The party is immediately over. The frankness of the story is typical of her style. It is honest, bawdy, and always contains an unpredictable twist. Ms. Cunningham is a very skilled storyteller with a compelling presence.
She’s been at the comedy game for a long time. You may have seen her in appearances on Saturday Night Live, Last Comic Standing, The Jimmy Fallon Show, The Tyra Banks Show, Gotham Live, or Sherri Shepard‘s Stand Up Showcase. She is a regular performer on the Festival Circuit. And it’s no wonder. Kendra Cunningham has great material, perfect comedic timing, and a natural rapport with her audience. Watching her show tonight, it was clear we were in the hands of a real pro. She is truly funny, and like all great comics, she is also truthful and touching.
She was given a great foundation by director Tanya Moberly, who kept the evening moving along and who dressed the set with dozens of self-help books and pamphlets as well as Cunningham’s trademark fashionable maxi dresses. It looked a little like one of the yard sales Cunningham describes being dragged to by her bargain-hunting mother. It’s those kinds of details that made Kendra Cunningham a delight to watch. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
For more information on Kendra Cunningham, visit her website kendrancunningham.com or follow her @theotherkendra on Instagram and Twitter. To find out about more great acts at Don’t Tell Mama, go to donttellmamanyc.com.