Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Katherine Ryan: Kathbum, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Jay Richardson.
Self-consciously introducing herself as “television’s Katherine Ryan”, the Canadian comic winks at her apparent ubiquity on the airwaves. Reflecting her rise as one of the UK’s sharpest commentators on celebrity culture, it also explains why some of her opening routines might sound familiar. You can’t complain too much, given the polish with which she dispatches Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Russell Brand and Oscar Pistorius, her cutting snark feeding thoughtful analyses of what these icons truly mean for society, driving the logic of their pre-eminence to blackly funny conclusions.
An heir apparent to Joan Rivers, Ryan sweetly roasts the stand-up legend from beyond the grave in a way the American would surely have appreciated. A badly received gag on Mock The Week fuelled a nation’s ire and Ryan shares the Twitter death threats she subsequently received. Still, she maintains, such incidents don’t impact on her. Because while she’s blazing through the panel show format, she understands how to craft a Fringe show too, laying bare her personal life and demonstrating that while she really dishes it out, she can take it too.
Focusing on the marriage of her younger sister, Ryan’s return to small-town Canada finds her remembering exactly why she was desperate to leave in the first place, sparing none of her family or acquaintances from her withering scorn. Her values are decidedly different and she’s a tough, uncompromising character manipulated only by her young daughter, the love-grate partnership between them vividly conveyed. Revealing her relationship and dating woes, the 32-year-old strikes a blow for (relatively) older women dating twenty-somethings, chewing up and spitting out a timid young conquest with a sardonic litany of her accomplishments. Poised, uncompromising and often savagely hilarious, you suspect Ryan will only add to these.
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4 (Venue 12) until 22 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 18 August 2015
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