tue 27/02/2024

Katherine Ryan, London Palladium review - a softer comic emerges | reviews, news & interviews

Katherine Ryan, London Palladium review - a softer comic emerges

Katherine Ryan, London Palladium review - a softer comic emerges

With enough barbs to keep it pleasingly sharp

Katherine Ryan recounts moving unexpectedly from single motherhood to a traditional family lifeTristram Kenton

A lot has happened to British-Canadian comic Katherine Ryan since she last toured and was expecting to go back on the road in 2020 – the “pandem”, which affected us all, of course, plus unexpected marriage and second-time motherhood. Updating us on that, plus her thoughts on much more, is a lot to pack in but she does so at pace in a show that barely stops for breath.

She keeps us waiting for a while before she tells us why this show is called Missus, though. First she has some nicely caustic asides about a few celebrities, her thoughts on anti-vaxxers and Covid conspiracy theorists, and the dangers of a tell-it-like-it-is comic like her being cancelled. But Ryan is not worried on the last score; she has a censorious 12-year-old daughter at home who cancels her several times a day for not being woke enough, she says.

Ryan's surprisingly unwaspish views on Covid conspiracists (including one in her own family) herald a softer, more approachable comic than we saw during her previous shows, although one senses the barbs are never far from the surface, ready to reemerge when necessary, and it doesn't make her gags any less funny.

She met her husband – her high-school sweetheart back in Ontario – after she returned to her home town to record the celebrity genealogy programme Who Do You Think You Are? (or “Please Don't Let Me Be a Nazi”, as she calls it). He's a looker, she says, and very much the J-Lo half of the couple if they were Bennifer.

Ryan describes her surprise at how traditional her life is now. Within two years she has gone from single mum to being married with a new baby, and has moved to the country – the last detail providing a cracking story about a burglary – and recounts how her detailed childbirth plan worked out.

This is a very well constructed show with some great callbacks and, unusually for Ryan, a lot of audience interaction that threw up some very funny exchanges on the night I saw the show. It ends, almost bizarrely for a comic who has made her name with withering cynicism running through her material, with a section that could be in a self-improvement manual, on being authentic and grabbing what life throws at us rather than waiting for it to happen.

And if one were tempted to dismiss that encomium, we should all remember what happened to our plans for 2020.

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