“I talk funny cause I come from Canada.” So says comedian Katherine Ryan, winner of the 2008 Nivea Funny Women award, finalist on BBC1’s Let’s Dance for Comic Relief and a familiar face on Mock the Week, 8 Out of 10 cats and QI. The Guardian called her latest live show “heartfelt, gossipy and sharp-tongued”.
Ryan made her screen debut at the age of 18, presenting the Canadian reality show Teens Dating, but somehow ended up working at Hooters, the restaurant chain known more for its scantily dressed waitresses than for its food. She even thought about opening her own branch of this “delightfully tacky yet unrefined” operation.
Now 30 and the mother of a four-year-old daughter, she calls herself “a typical British mum – a young, uneducated immigrant”. More than a little obsessed with Beyoncé, she recently announced, “All I’ve ever wanted to be is a strong, powerful, beautiful black woman.” “What I meant,” she explained, “is that I’d love to have the confidence in and ownership of my sexuality that Beyoncé appears to have. She’s sexy on her own terms and comes across as completely authentic to me.”
Katherine came into the Guardian to answer your questions live.
13 May 2014 12:06pm
Hi Guardian people, sorry I'm late. There was trouble in the lift - (in that I waited inside it for something exciting to happen). Ready to answer your PROBABLY ALL VERY NICE comments.
Here are some of the highlights:
09 May 2014 7:25pm
You've appeared on
Mock the Week, a format notorious for favouring the louder, more robust, male comedians. I thought you did a great job – what's the secret of getting your contribution heard in such a challenging environment?
13 May 2014 1:26pm
I don't worry about whether or not people like me. What kind of person would I be if I expected everyone to like me? I just enjoy the experience of being next to my favourite comedians. I'm glad you like the result. x
13 May 2014 12:43pm
What aspects of British life do you find bizare and strange and do we provide excellent comedy material that we are completely oblivious to?
13 May 2014 1:06pm
I love Britain. I'm an Irish citizen, but I was born in Canada, and I'm a British comedian really. My entire career has been over here. And now I'm a British mum too.
I do find your level of patience funny. And your reluctance to speak up if someone pushes in a queue for example. But that's also very dangerous. Speak up, Britain!
I love all the accents. Drive five minutes down the road and it's like a whole new language.
You drink a lot - WAY TOO MUCH - and will sit on a patio for a pint when it's raining.
You're very, very funny, but I can only say that because I respect you so much too.
10 May 2014 8:41am
What is the most difficult aspect of a comedian for you? In what way does being a woman make it harder and in what, easier?
You're great! And to hold your own on Mock the Week is no mean feat!
13 May 2014 12:35pm
The most difficult aspect of being a comedian is the National Rail Service. But I know they're trying. x
09 May 2014 9:05pm
I'm aways surprised that we see you hosting more shows, I hope that changes in the future.
13 May 2014 1:24pm
I don't host any shows actually. I am very impressed by your keen ability to see into the future. Is my grandma proud of me? How much do I owe you for this reading?
10 May 2014 4:06am
Mmm...Katherine, why on earth do you do what you do?..
13 May 2014 12:36pm
I just think it makes sense. It's warn, there's a drain. And then I don't waste water by flushing the toilet.
(You mean why do I pee in the shower, right?)
13 May 2014 12:39pm
Who would win in a fight, Solange or Jay... oh, never mind.
13 May 2014 12:40pm
Beyonce wins the war.
13 May 2014 12:34pm
As a female comedian, do you feel experience a lot of sexism in the industry or are your peers supportive?
13 May 2014 12:42pm
Everyone I've ever worked with is a feminist. The industry is very supportive and inclusive.
13 May 2014 12:26pm
Katherine, would you consider providing grooming, dietary and life skill tips to the current crop of UK female comedians?
Also some advice on what is funny would help.
13 May 2014 12:46pm
Well that's not funny for a start.
13 May 2014 12:00pm
Some of the things you say could be interpreted as controversial, but so far you have managed to avoid too much controversy. As your career gathers pace, and the tabloids take notice, are you more aware of what you can/can't say? Or do you just not give a shit?
13 May 2014 12:11pm
There's been controversy. Not in the tabloids as they've been busy helpfully outing peados and pointing out celebrity cellulite mostly, but you're right, who know what may piss them off in the future. I don't seek to be controversial, but I don't mind it either. There's always someone who's going to be offended. I try to be fair and not take too much notice.
12 May 2014 12:47am
Was it your time with Hooter's that gave you the seriousness of going into performing comedy, and what was it?
13 May 2014 12:58pm
I did my first open mic gig while waitressing at Hooters restaurant next door. I looked at comedy like a gym for keeping my mind sharp at work and at uni. It's a long story, but I'm very fond of my time as a Hooters Girl. It's certainly something that I look at very differently than I did ten years ago, but I was a silly girl back then - In a group of other silly girls, who I formed deep friendships with and who are all now amazing women. It's like being a cheerleader or beauty pageant contestant, we were objectified, but didn't understand. Dressing identically to everyone else and serving customers chicken with a smile forced me to develop a very strong voice that I'm grateful for today.
12 May 2014 1:53am
Having performed in both big and small venues, do have a preference when it comes to the audience size you are performing to?
Also did you get to keep your costume from Let's Dance and if so, has it made an appearance for Halloween yet??
13 May 2014 12:24pm
It's great to do both because I think different material works for varying crowd sizes. It's really fun to be physical and sharp in a big room, but I can get away with more storytelling in the basement of a pub.
The Let's Dance Nicki Minaj suit was a collaboration of ideas, and the costume department worked hard and imaginatively to make it overnight. I certainly don't own it. It's a work of art. And it's theirs. Who knows what they get up to with it though...
13 May 2014 11:39am
Multiple choice, please choose only one of the following to complete the sentence.
If you had bronchitis, you would,
a) have time for that.
b) not have time for that.
13 May 2014 12:20pm
B) Ain't nobody got time for that.
13 May 2014 12:19pm
How do you feel about Scottish independence?
13 May 2014 1:10pm
Selfishly, I'd like them to stay and continue voting against the Tories. It's a complex issue, isn't it.
13 May 2014 12:45pm
Best/ worst heckle?
13 May 2014 12:49pm
I don't want to encourage bad behaviour, but I do love a heckler. A SMART heckler who isn't pissed & trying to ruin the show for everyone else. It's not my experience, but there's a green room story about the best heckle ever and I think it goes:
Comedian: So I'm a schizophrenic. Heckler: F-off then, the both of you!
13 May 2014 12:46pm
Would you rather fight a horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
13 May 2014 1:16pm
Ducks are terrifying. Birds are exactly like dinosaurs. Everything about them is awful. NEVER GROW THEM BIGGER.
Katherine has now finished answering your questions. Thanks for all your contributions.
13 May 2014 1:28pm
Thank you very much for your participation! It was so nice to have a chat. Sorry, I couldn't answer more questions but the system only lets me do a few at a time. See you on Twitter. Glad we're all friends now. I'll never forget you. x