Kitty Flanagan: Hello Kitty

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Kitty Flanagan didn’t want to be ‘that woman’, living alone in Sydney with her cat, so she set out to snare herself a boyfriend. And she got a rude awakening: turns out it’s not that easy, since she has too many demanding rules. Apparently ‘no beverages on the toilet’ is setting the bar too high for most blokes...

But thank the comedy gods for her firm opinions and sharp tongue, for this is an effortless hour of sarcastic put-downs and pointed anecdotes that hits the spot.

In content, she’s occupying the same space as quite a lot of of bitter social commentators; rolling her eyes at the barely-there dresses of the youth, bemoaning the degradation (in both senses of the word) of rap music, complaining about crying babies on planes – and even musing on the difference between cats and dogs. That’s a topic that’s so hack that even using it as a reference for being hack is hack – and yes, sometimes she treads where others have been before.

But it ain’t always what you say, and Flanagan is eloquently dismissive of all that raises her hackles. The monologue cracks along, smooth as her cat’s fur, with solid common-sense reasoning behind her gripes; this does not transmit as bitterness for the sake of it, but an honest reaction to behaviour that’s either antisocial, or just beyond comprehension.

It’s funny, too, each routine packed with punchlines and all delivered with a casual, conversational style, animated but not exaggerated. The energy is, perhaps surprisingly, upbeat – making her positive about her negativity.

Flanagan is an advert for stand-up itself; almost literally as she outlines the drawbacks of alternative entertainment choices such as pretentiously arty dance; disappointing burlesque and intimidating cabaret. After that, you’re thankful of a no-nonsense woman who gets the laughs from talking about universally identifiable irritations.

For her finale, the perky and playful comic was joined by her singer-songwriter sister Penny for a couple of songs, the first capturing her whole cynical attitude – Shut Up – the second a sardonic romp through the world’s religions. Not lyrically groundbreaking, but nicely done for a satisfying show-stopper.

This is a rock-solid show from Flanagan, who reveals that she was recently dropped from a list of inspirational role models by one women’s magazine, which felt her tongue-in-cheek interview answers didn’t fit the earnest narrative they wanted. But it’s hard to see what part of having an opinion, expressing it wittily, and getting a theatre full of people laughing along doesn’t fit that brief.

Review date: 12 Apr 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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