Kate Smurthwaite: Wrong kind of feminist – review

Star rating: ***

Ciao Roma (Venue 283)

64 South Bridge Edinburgh, EH1 1LS

United Kingdom

Edinburgh Fringe 2015 – PBH Free Fringe

Review date: Wednesday 12th August 2015

7th-30th August 2015. 20:20pm (60 minutes): £Free entry. Pay what you think the show is worth. Further information

Left-wing political comedy from the all new unwilling poster child for free speech. ThreeWeeks’ Award winner as seen on Question Time and The Big Questions, but too controversial for Goldsmith’s College. ‘The verve with which she articulates her views on our land is monumental.’ (BroadwayBaby.com

Ciao everybody,

Why can’t Comediennes get angry, in a Doug Stanhope/Frankie Boyle sort of way, asks Kate Smurthwaite?

I’m not aware there were any legal or comedic regulations that preclude female comedians from donning a Mr or Mrs angry persona.  That said it’s difficult to think of too many “Mrs Angry” comediennes out there. I think if you are angry, passionate about aspects of life – be they politics or the personal, that’s all potential material for comedy and it’s up to the artist to translate that into something that is angry, passionate, personal and funny too. Rhod Gilbert stands out as a classic Mr Angry comedian.

Being upset and passionate about something will come naturally to most people when moved to feel that way about something. I guess the art of comedy is to present this in an interesting and amusing form that makes others care about, or at least stop for a moment to think about and consider the matter, be it to do with serious politics or the buffet train having (almost) run out of sandwiches!

Her frequent media appearances on ‘The Big Questions’ and numerous radio shows are testament to Kate’s growing prowess and reputation as a political commentator on matters of equality and social justice.

This she manages as an adjunct to her main job of being a Stand up Comedienne. The theme of this show was freedom of speech and the curtailment of that for Kate back in January this year when Goldsmiths College, South London, cancelled a talk she was due to take part in on the grounds that a demonstration was planned and they did not want to take on the security risk. The fact, as presented by Kate, that there was no intelligence to indicate it was going to be a violent demonstration, made the cancellation of the event extremely baffling to Kate and many others. It attracted a lot of media attention, which Kate talked about and highlighted with clips from various newspapers.

I recall at the time this incident seemed blown out of all proportion and 8 months on it’s quite strange to think that this could even have happened in this day and age. All the same Kate used her account of this incident to create jokes and point out the ludicrousness of the decision taken by the university.

She also entertained the audience that filled the Ciao Roma restaurant venue in Edinburgh with other stories about her appearances on Channel 4’s ‘Couples Come Dine with Me’ and a guest speaking engagement at Oxford University, her alma mater. The stories she told re ‘The Only Way is Essex’s’ Abby were hilarious. Anyone for soup?

Serious stuff

Serious matters were not so much played for laughs but were a fascinating insight into what can happen when you stick your head above the parapet as Kate does. One appearance on ‘The Big Questions’  resulted in 48 hours of extreme trolling and if she printed it all out it would have stretched to an incredible 165 pages – all because she called someone out on the programme for referring to an audience member as “darling”.

As well as the Goldsmiths ‘freedom of speech’ theme the other main theme was that of choice. Whether that’s Muslim women having freedom to choose what to wear and not, for instance, being constrained to wearing burqa’s and covering up against their wishes.

Yarls Wood

She also spoke about the Yarls Wood Immigration Removal Centre. It’s meant to be a short–term immigration holding centre but is reportedly treating people, particularly women very inhumanely. On the day I saw this show The Independent ran a major feature on the Centre: “Conditions at a privately run immigration removal centre have “deteriorated” over the past year to the extent that almost half of the women held there fear for their safety, according to a damning report published by the Chief Inspector of Prisons.”


She played a clip of a speech she gave to a conference outlining her solutions for the NHS. This got the biggest round of applause of the night. Impressive stuff.

I’m not sure where the “wrong sort of feminist” tag comes from. I guess not everyone wants to hear from a strident, feminist who enjoys a media platform, however in a free society she, like any feminist, be they the “right or wrong sort” should be able to speak freely without fear of being trolled, abused or even physically threatened.

For me this was a serious, yet constantly funny and a quite moving show. It covered a lot of ground, but wasn’t overly preachy and Kate never forgot that people had come to be entertained. I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable edutainment.

Ciao Tiemo Talk of the Town

Review © Tiemo Talk of the Town

This entry was posted in Comedy Reviews 2015, Edinburgh Fringe Reviews 2015, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s