FringeReview UK 2017
Star of BBC’s Live At The Apollo, Comedy Central’s Your Face Or Mine, Channel 4’s How’d You Get So Rich? and her Netflix special Katherine Ryan: In Trouble, Katherine Ryan is a writer / performer and comedian who is dominating the UK television and live comedy scene.
Glitter Room is Katherine’s first UK tour since the hugely successful Kathbum which had two sell-out nationwide UK tours as well as runs at the Edinburgh Festival, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal.
Overall I did enjoy this show, but Andrew Johnston’s support for Katherine Ryan was not an amazing start. Flown in from Canada (they are apparently old friends) his comedy topics are of the slightly hackneyed variety; comments about his weight and body shape get some titters from the audience, but aren’t anything particularly new. He also falls into the trap of many comics from that side of the pond who feel the need to point out the fact that we say lift they say elevator, they say bathroom we say toilet etc. etc. etc. Yawn.
His set picks up a bit when he starts exploiting his sexuality for comedy purposes, but then this is more of everything you have heard before from gay comedians. The image of him watching porn clips of nude scenes from films on four different screens simultaneously is quite amusing, but on the whole his stories and jokes fall a bit flat and were ultimately forgettable.
I was therefore glad when after the interval Katherine Ryan sashayed onto the stage in a fabulous pair of pink trousers that looked like they would be at home in episode 1 of Blue Planet. She immediately invited some heckling, from a pathetic creature down the front who saw fit to comment on the fact that she was less attractive in real life than in the large picture of her displayed on the screen at the back. She relished in taking him down, and got lots of laughs throughout the show as she made callbacks to his dickishness and how unfortunate his poor girlfriend was to be with him.
Having seen Ryan on TV quite a bit, I expected her show to be a bit more political, as she often appears on comedy panel shows discussing current affairs. However, this show was more focused on the domestic, and her life as a single mum to a wonderfully precocious eight year old, who she sent up something rotten, thanks to the Mary Poppins-eque accent she bestowed upon her impressions of her daughter.
There is a great bit of her set where she describes another mum at her daughter’s private school. Jane has seven children and a husband the colour of ham who never removes his bicycle helmet. It is such an amazing and believable description that I desperately hope these people really exist.
The latter part of the show does become more political as she becomes wound up by the expectations of her builders that she should have a man in the house, and a pervy taxi driver who wins her trust and then asks to come on her toes. This led into a riff about the Broadway Musical Hamilton that didn’t quite work.
Apparently in Hamilton there is a man who seduces a vulnerable woman (and ultimately loses everything.) Now whilst the show sounds good and Ryan’s performing of the Hamilton songs was flawless, I didn’t feel that the story she was telling was relevant enough to her central point about sexual predators. It was quite a long time to dwell on and recount the content of a musical that it was clear most of the audience hadn’t heard of and wouldn’t see.
Overall however, Ryan’s set was funny, engaging and she was a very likeable and charming performer who clearly enjoyed interacting with her audience. At the end she asked if there were any questions, and we therefore finished the show with a slightly incongruous conversation about Ryan’s birth story and whether she had had an epidural or not. However she made it funny, and I suppose that’s the risk you take if you invite the audience to get involved!