Between the start of Katherine Ryan’s Glitter Room tour, in September last year, and her Glasgow Comedy Festival appearance this week, which coincided with International Women’s Day, the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have arguably made huge progressive gains.
Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow ****
The Canadian comic isn’t slow to mock empty hashtag activism, but for a stand-up she has a rare unsnobby attitude towards the Kardashians and the show business boss sass of Celine Dion, even if it is undercut with darker satire. And she manages to fully embody resurgent feminism while spoofing its occasional excesses.
Glitter Room ends with her ahistorical issues with the musical Hamilton and its refusal to get on board with her programme for men respecting vulnerable women, and she borrows from the hit show’s catchy musicality to simultaneously hammer her point home and send up her over-reaction.
As an immigrant single mother and the first woman in her family to own property, Ryan projects the matriarchy in assertive control, dismissing her needy manchild ex as utterly superfluous. And yet she’s undermined by her very English, rather Tory eight-year-old daughter, Violet. In previous shows Ryan has cast the two of them as a team against the world. Yet here, they’re more often (and amusingly) found at cross-purposes, encapsulated by their cute if clownish stalking of the actor Anna Kendrick and the united defensive front Ryan has to present with Violet’s father following their separation.
Personal flaws, celebrity snark and light-touch social commentary – Ryan blends all of them together with effortless panache.