Perhaps a bit late to the party, as her DVD record at the Eventim Apollo is due to take place the following night, hundreds of fans flock to Birmingham’s Town Hall to see Katherine Ryan’s critically acclaimed and Chortle Award-winning show, Kathbum.
Ryan varies her support acts throughout each tour, and tonight’s warm-up entertainment comes from Stephen Bailey, who, as Katherine rightfully states herself, better fits the criteria for a headline act than a support slot these days in terms of competence in performance. Stephen is a wise head on young shoulders; reassuringly secure in himself and his act in a way that enables him to take an audience under his wing. With an attitude of confidence and independence, blended with a humorous suggestion of neediness, Bailey’s material is slick, but not so slick that audiences have difficulty warming to him.
Katherine Ryan has blossomed over the past year and this is clear from the moment she walks on stage, greeted by bellowing cheers of excitement and endearment. She appears surprisingly relaxed, but humble, explaining her reasons for always bringing a support act with her on tour before progressing towards the heart of the show.
Ryan is constantly developing as a writer and performer, which is some feat considering how smart and cutting her comedy has been since her first UK tour in 2013. This latest show is arguably about evolving as an individual as those we grew up with do the same, and the inevitable drift from those we used to relate to. Ryan uses this as a tool to discuss issues relating to overcoming the judgements of others and being assured enough in ourselves to make the decisions that are best for us. The somewhat-obsessive interest in celebrity culture is still apparent, serving as a metaphor for greater issues in society such as racism and misogyny.
Ryan’s comedy is self-aware in a triumphant sense, rather than a defeatist one. Her craft is admirable, with each narrative carried out to its conclusion and perfectly timed callbacks that fit into the performance, rather than shape it. She is professional, yet personal; brutally honest but not irrational in her cutting remarks with each issue being clinically dissected and evaluated before any ill-informed opinions are able to be expressed. And whilst she may introduce challenging concepts, Ryan always has her audience’s best interests in mind, assuming an almost-maternal role that shines through brightest when she talks directly to young female audience members; whom we might deduce to be her target demographic.
Katherine Ryan is not fazed by anything, it seems, whether that be hecklers or significant life events. The quality of her craft is creatively motivating; the content emotionally uplifting, whilst remaining delightfully unpredictable, accessible and genuine.
KATHERINE RYAN’S DVD RECORDING OF ‘KATHBUM’ WILL BE AVAILABLE SOON