Katherine Ryan

Katherine Ryan

Chortle's best club comic of 2015, Ryan is a panel show regular, turning to comedy after working for Hooters in her home town of Toronto. She also won the Funny Women competition in 2008 and was nominated for the breakthrough award in the 2014 Chortle Awards.
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Katherine Ryan: 'All single mums should do stand-up'

'It's the perfect situation'

All single mothers should do stand-up, Katherine Ryan says.

She says that the hours meant she could spend daytimes with her daughter Violet – and could even take her to gigs – while the situation also boosted her confidence.

Speaking to John Bishop on his W show tonight, the Canadian comic said: ‘I did my first gig with Violet, wearing her when she was 21 days old.

‘People hadn’t seen a baby that young,’ she said. ‘They were like, "I think something’s wrong with your baby."  I said, "No, she’s just born."’ 

The show was at the Latitude Festival, and Ryan said: ‘It was so new that I didn't have any material about having a baby, so I just didn't mention it.’

She added: ‘Sometimes on tour, she slept just by the stage where I could see her, and sometimes she would fall asleep and her arm would flop over the wrong side of the curtain and I’d just go over and kick it back in.

‘We’d spend a lot of time together. It was the perfect situation for a single mum. I think all single mothers should do stand-up comedy. It was practical -  it worked.’

She said becoming a mum eight years ago gave her confidence and a new set of priorities which means she didn’t have to sweat the small stuff.

Ryan said: ‘If I have my daughter’s health and she’s happy and we’re safe… I knew if we just had those things, everything else is a bonus.’

And once she started taking that attitude she found her career started taking off. 

The 35-year-old also spoke of the struggles she had, but said they helped define her.

Ryan and Bishop

‘I wouldn’t want my daughter to be struggling but I value that I struggled a bit,’ she said. ‘[Violet] will never be really poor and on her own - I hope she’s not – but I’m glad that  I was.’

Ryan spoke about being bullied at secondary school for the gap in her teeth, and that her parents became the talk of her small town when they split up.

She said they were ‘never meant for each other’, adding: ‘If I can speak freely I don’t think my father will mind - no he will - but  I’m certain he married with his dick. They weren’t really compatible but had three kids

‘They separated when I was 15, which was great, and my dad never spoke to my mum again. It was better for everyone.’

Her mother then went out with a 20-year-old – who had dumped a girl from Ryan’s school to go out with her. ‘That’s probably when the bullying intensified,’ the comic opined. But the story has a happy ending as her mum is still with him.

She also said that she felt like she was a disappointment to her mum and dad. ‘My parents had friends who had children who were amazing at piano or great at basketball and were very poised, but I knew from a  very early age I was disappointing everyone.’

She moved to Britain for a man, and said she decided to have a child when a health scare left her fearing she may be left infertile.

While working in an office job, she said she broke out in ‘open sores on my face that were undeniable - you really couldn't look away from them. 

‘I was really ill, really run-down, really nauseous every day, I had joint pain for almost six months. I would go to these doctors and they would say, "Oh I don't know" then I was diagnosed with systemic lupus - it's an autoimmune disease.

‘They were very serious in saying what could happen, Some people are on dialysis, some people have to have chemotherapy, some people have to have transplants and a lot of people can't have children. 

‘Then I started to get better because I started taking medication. I felt euphoric that I felt better and I thought I could never have children.’

Although she soon split up with Violet’s dad, she said it was important that they were still in touch.

Ryan also said that she was glad she developed her comedy career in the UK, with its thriving scene.

‘Even though I am Canadian I'm a British comic because I developed over here... I really feel so blessed to be a British comic,’she said.

John Bishop in Conversation With Katherine Ryan is on W at 9pm on Thursday.

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Published: 24 Jul 2018

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