Comedy review: Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Hysterical Woman

A dubious cross for comics from a minority background to bear is that they're perpetually expected to represent their entire demographic.

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Hysterical Woman
Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Hysterical Woman

Star rating: ****

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)

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Wilfully appropriating that burden for your debut Fringe hour then seems perverse.

Kiri Pritchard-McLean explains to the uninitiated in the crowd that women aren’t a minority. It’s just that in 2016, the idea that they aren’t funny either is still deep-rooted and widespread enough to make a show like this viable, even necessary,not least because misogynists are giving her so much material to work with.

She’s aware that in the grand scheme of things it’s very much a first-world problem and that the Fringe, generally, feels smugly enlightened beyond it. But Hysterical Woman exists as a thorough primer for the insidious, low-level sexism that surrounds the comedy industry, expanding into exploration of the cultural underpinnings of all such prejudice.

A fair amount of trying, first-hand experience and research has gone into this show and it’s difficult to shake the impression of an academic thesis – but without wishing to sound like one of those self-declared male feminists seeking to curry favour, as Pritchard-McLean acknowledges her shrewd boyfriend, the best rebuttal she makes is simply her own sharp wit.

With a conversational style that’s warm, engaging and revealing, she’s nevertheless uncompromising in her assessment of blinkered idiots and a society that encourages them.

Treading a successful line between instinctive self-deprecation and defiance, never emboldening the forces stacked against her, it’s ironic that her explanations of why she shouldn’t have to play hostile rooms make her seem like an act that can definitely handle them.

Passionate, smart and yes, bloody funny, there’s a raw depth of feeling here that you won’t find in many shows and it really should be the final word on the subject.

Until 29 August. Today, 6pm.