Katherine Ryan is one of my favourite comedians (I mean, people) of all time and I hadn’t seen her since the beginning of last year. Luckily, the evening of Wednesday the 12th of November finally arrived and I had the opportunity to visit the infamous Birmingham Glee Club for the first time to see Katherine’s delightful new show, Glam Role Model, at long last. And before the evening had even properly started, I got to meet my lovely twitter friend Sophie, someone who I wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for Katherine (so nice one mate).
The support act was Sean Mcloughlin; a new comic for me who has a wonderfully confident stage presence that made his entire set look effortless. He is refreshingly open and modest to the point of self-depreciating, which is something he certainly doesn’t need to be as he is clearly a very naturally funny man. The material that we saw was relatable and accessible to all in the room, as Sean picked apart his own personality and his frustrating lack of money; two hangups that almost everyone has about themselves.
And then the highly anticipated moment arrived. Katherine’s set was honest, diverse and outstandingly funny; she effortlessly combines topical material about pop stars, the royal family and glamour models with precise and intentional messages that she relays to her audience without appearing overbearing at any point. The show also gave us insight into what living in Canada is like as well as comparing that to life in Britain, with clever observations of our culture that many of us living here all our lives haven’t noticed, such as the fact we are the only country where things like Glamour Models and Page 3 are entirely commonplace.
Here we have a comedian who isn’t afraid of potential danger; who often aims to shock in order to get her ideas across, and I think that is the best trait a comedian can have. If you don’t push boundaries with your material, what are you really doing? She has been described to ‘frequently skirt with bad taste’ and I think this captures aspects of her comedy style well, and though this is what has unfairly got her into trouble in the past, I believe it’s what makes her comedy so intensely brilliant. Katherine may be classed as ‘mainstream’, but she has elements of something completely different: this show is perfectly and intricately crafted so that everyone can feel included, but also tackles issues that your average ‘mainstream comic’ wouldn’t dare touch. And she tackles them with force.
Katherine is a comic who leaves a room of people feeling like they have gained something, and they have. Glam Role Model has frequent references to celebrity culture (her signature thing) but she never aims to bring specific people down; rather, she shuns actions and certainly not individuals. Katherine has said that she “soon learned that you won’t get anywhere in this world unless you have a voice,” and that she feels “a great responsibility to say meaningful things through comedy.” Well she has certainly achieved those goals with this fantastic show.
I’ve made it clear in the past that I hugely respect any female comedian, not at all out of sympathy, but purely because I can see what an immensely difficult task that must be, being a teenage girl myself. However, my admiration and respect for Katherine goes beyond this. It’s obvious that here we have a lady who has been through difficult times, particularly relevantly with her reference to recent events in her life that she talks openly about, but Katherine is never one to moan or complain: she just gets on with it. And not only that, she has made something magnificent, heartwarming and ultimately hilarious as a result and that shows amazing strength of character.
If you’re looking for a brilliant role model who just so happens to be a little bit glam too, look no further than my role model, the incredible Katherine Ryan.