Guest post: All the stars

latsot’s review of Kate Smurthwaite’s show:

Kate’s gig took place in the immediate aftermath of some Facebook misogyny so braying that it was simultaneously almost impossible to believe and entirely expected. Kate gets called “bitch” a lot on Facebook and other sundry internet places so she called her tour “Bitch”, intending to talk about that. Facebook was entirely sanguine about the bitch-calling business but decided that Kate’s calling her own gig “Bitch” violated their community guidelines so they refused to advertise the York one even though Kate had paid them to do that. Consequently, the show wasn’t well-advertised.

Yeah. Like I said, almost impossible to believe but at the same time entirely expected. It’s why I went to the show. I’ve seen Kate perform before and am a big fan of her telling off religious idiots on those Sunday morning god shows we don’t seem able to rid ourselves of so I would probably have gone to the gig anyway but I hadn’t heard about it until Facebook STREISAND’D it. York is half an hour south of where I live so the ticket sold itself.

The show was upstairs in The Artful Dodger, a pub that, to be fair, Fagin himself would feel comfortable doing business in. There was an excellent dog who seemed to live there. I think he was trained to stare at people playing the fruit machine, basically daring them to put more money in. When they ran out of money he came to be stroked by me. He was no Bullseye but he cheered me up no end. I’d forgotten that all pubs in York smell of the river when it has been raining, which is to say they smell of sewerage and not-Bullseye distracted me from that with his antics.

The pub was fairly rancid and the beer wasn’t good, but the gig was upstairs, through a portcullis. The upstairs was kind of Downton Abbey but with cheap electric heaters in violation of every health and safety rule ruled. It was nice, but there weren’t a lot of people there, presumably because of the Facebook business. There was quite a lot of trying to make the projector work. Part of me wanted to point out that in the hundred or so computer science conferences I’ve been to and the hundreds more CS meetings, the projector never worked either and you’re usually better off without the bugger. But it being sorted out was fun and friendly. People teetered around on a ladder pressing buttons, that alone was worth the price of the ticket.

Then the gig started with a support act, Andrea Louise Watson (@andanina) who was very good. She was introduced as someone who had been to one or more of Kate’s stand-up classes. I don’t know whether Kate is a good teacher but Andrea was funny. Highlights included a story about how – when she had to slam on her brakes – she was most worried about whether her vibrator would roll to the front of the car. It probably isn’t the sort of story even I would tell in front of my elderly mother, but Andrea’s mother was there in the front row obviously and rightly proud of her daughter. If Andrea does other gigs, go and see her if you can.

Then it was Kate’s turn. She was very animated. She said some things that many people in the audience didn’t seem to know how to react to. It wasn’t calculatedly ‘edgy’ stuff, it was anecdotal, all the time referring back to the hateful idea that women aren’t supposed to say that kind of thing. It was fun to watch people try to decide whether or not it’s OK to say it. A big part of the routine was Kate putting on a bitch dress – as defined by the likes of Disney and Facebook. It hammered home the point in the way Kate always does.

It was a good gig. From my perspective better because it was small, gathered around the health-and-safety-violating electric heaters. Kate probably had an entirely different perspective because she presumably wasn’t paid as much as she should have been for a solid performance which she obviously and rightly enjoyed.

Kate is as smart and funny as any other comic I’ve seen and she’s not fucking about. Her anecdotes aren’t jokes, they’re descriptions of having fun and the hostile reactions people seem to have about, mostly, female sexuality.

All the stars, go and see Kate if you can. Andrea too.

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