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Katherine Ryan: Little Miss Conception

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

One strand of Katherine Ryan’s debut concerns the awful childhood beauty pageants she competed in back in her native Canadian town of Sarnia – a real place, Google Maps assures me.

Today, performing her show in a turquoise tutu, singing songs in with an self-confessed ‘scratchy voice’, and delivering scatterbrain stand-up in an irritating stage-school style that involves windmilling her arms with such deliberate choreography that it seems like she’s doing semaphore, the instant thought is that she hasn’t moved on much from being that precocious pint-sized show-off.

And blow me if it doesn’t take her a whole freaking hour to get to the same conclusion – and not in a particularly slick way, either. Sure, she has the odd good joke or two, perhaps just enough to scrape together a serviceable 20 minute club set, but as a show it’s a jumbled, self-indulgent triumph of enthusiasm over ability.

The other key strand – or clump might be a better term – of Ryan’s material involves her being a new mum; with some musings on why it’s better to date mums than childless women. There are a few nice lines here, but just as many of the quality: ‘It’s so hard breastfeeding in public… even now I have the baby!’ that should have fallen at the first quality-control hurdle.

The phenomenon of ‘baby brain’ – where pregnancy addles the mind – is scientifically unproven; but Ryan’s unfocussed hour could be used as evidence for that it exists. Her thread gets tangled, and she has a habit of launching into subjects without teeing them up properly, as if we have to know what she’s thinking before she says them.

She describes herself as ‘one of those girls who likes drunk karaoke’, and she certainly has a zest for performing, even if that manifests itself in her gabbling quickly and excitedly. And the three or four songs that punctuate the show certain feed that need to show off – that can surely be the only reason for their inclusion.

On the plus side, there are a few well-made observations, especially one involving an airport bar and another about the exaggerated tourist slogan of Cork, where her father was from. But it’s not enough to save a show that, for want of a better description, is simply ill-conceived.

Review date: 8 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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