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Katherine Ryan: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Julian Hall

Canadian stand-up Katherine Ryan had a reasonable buzz about her last year, though there was a view expressed that Little Miss Conception was average until the denouement. That said, finale flourishes have been enough to win awards before.

There’s no such payoff this year, and her post pregnancy set is probably in need of one, as this is an uneven affair.

Reminiscent of Maria Bamford (on a day when she is finding it hard to get here surreal jumps to go somewhere) or a Peanuts character who has turned to stand-up, Ryan is a pretty woman with a potty mouth. However, this genre (of which Sarah Silverman is the prime example) has as much been built by other people than the comics themselves, so it would be unfair to dismiss her as having a one trick shtick.

Ryan is a good comedian, or at least one struggling to get out. One of things that holds her back is her obsession with celebrity culture, which makes her one-note. Without intentionally being the main focus of the show, Ryan’s constant recourse to celebrity-based disses starts to sound hackneyed and she’s a bit lost if we haven’t heard about, for example, Alicia Duvall. Surely, if you haven’t this is all the better.

Smart lines punctuate the show, before undoing these impressive flashes with conceptual leaps that don’t come off, notably in her audience work. She hits a closing stride with a section about her baby daughter and dealing with a child maintenance hotline, but by this point it’s a little late to be clawing back goodwill, or salvaging a good impression.

For her arbitrary ending, Ryan falls foul of a mistake that many other comics have also made this year – to make it about their social media contacts. A brief mention, a projection of the details, but don’t dwell on this too much. Ryan is probably not the worst offender but it’s a routine ending to a workmanlike show.

Review date: 18 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Julian Hall
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon

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