Katherine Ryan at Latitude 2021 | Gig review by Steve Bennett © James Gilham
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Katherine Ryan at Latitude 2021

Gig review by Steve Bennett

Taking full advantage of the abolition of Covid distancing rules, a sea of bodies packs into Latitude’s comedy arena – and as far beyond as the sound travels – for Katherine Ryan’s Saturday night headlining set.

But although she merits the biggest billing and earns the biggest audience, she’s actually one of the least prepared for her appearance. Her first proper gig since lockdown ended – and just over a month after she gave birth to her second child – is in front of more than 2,000 people… and a large chunk of it is work in progress.

She carries a sheet of paper on stage, but it’s not always helpful. ‘I’ve written microwave and I don’t know why,’ she comments at one point.

Several sections have promising premises lack a strong though line, conclusion or the sort of pull-no-punches gags she’s known for – all the hallmarks of a comic still putting her thoughts and ideas in order, in other words.

What she’s never lacked is attitude, and this performance is full of that defiant swagger as she addresses fights with online trolls trying to cancel her and the backlash she got for telling an amateur jeweller on All That Glitters: ‘Do it with the confidence of a straight white man’. Even though it was already something of a trope before she aired in on the BBC.

Ryan is definitely keen to redress an historic gender imbalance in comedy, calling for a period when it’s OK to laugh at men in payback for all the decades when the traffic’s been in the other direction. In a similar vein, she rails against the ‘Karen’ insult levelled at  privileged white women with a ‘let me speak to the manager’ vibe as just another way to silence women.  It’s the sort of anti-misogyny message that elicits whoops of support and frequent applause breaks, but laughs are rarer.

Even being dead for more than 200 years doesn’t get Alexander Hamilton off the hook for taking advantage of a woman in need, but it does give Ryan a chance to show off her singing prowess in recreating that scene from the musical.

She takes a few excursions away from the social campaigning, such as talking about marrying her hot high school sweetheart, or dissecting Channel 4’s Naked Attraction. Though she doesn’t need to do much more than describe the show to mock it.

Quite how this will all fit together by the time she goes on tour with her new show, Missus, from September remains to be seen. But on her first outing out, her piercing attitude isn’t supported by similarly sharp-edged writing.

Though plenty among her army of fans seem more than happy with the truth bombs she delivered, judging from the post-gig chatter as the arena slowly emptied for the night.

» Katherine Ryan 2021/2022 tour dates

Review date: 26 Jul 2021
Reviewed by: Katherine Ryan

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