A soggy Sunday afternoon spent in a cosy tent with the rain pitter-pattering on the roof felt much better than the battle of brollies it took to get there. This showcase gig was hosted by Lara A King, the winner of last year’s Funny Women Award. King was very much at ease with her audience and warmed us up with the title song from her show ‘People Pleaser’. Warmed we were. This was a heckle-free event; was this because it was a women’s gig? Don’t be put off, no-one mentioned tampons either and there were men.
The first act was Sarah Callaghan, a 20 year old Londoner who has already been performing for two years on the circuit. Her catch phrase was “It’s a true story, yeah?” and she talked about the things she knew, like drugs, explaining that smoking weed is like voting Lib-Dem; you get a smug feeling. She’s cocky and has her own style as a stand-up but the audience was not her natural demographic.
Next up was Kerry Gilbert, making her entrance to the old classic Je T’aime and groaning as she took off her shoes. Wonderfully incongruous. However, Gilbert then over-explained her show before doing impersonations of two characters, Gary Tits and Pauline, who had similar accents an octave apart and became a little lost on the audience.
Lucy Frederick was delightfully self-deprecating in a Miranda sort of way, but different enough that she reminded me of Lord Percy from Blackadder. Anyone who can work Catherine Cookson, Downton Abbey and Agas into such a short set and raise lots of belly-laughs from the audience must be doing it right. Tantalisingly, she has no Fringe show.
Headlining was the very slick Katherine Ryan. With prom-queen looks and a potty mouth, Ryan never missed a beat, working an audience member into her routine and being rather nice about the baby sitting behind me. A Canadian living in London, Ryan describes herself as a “typical British mum: a young, uneducated immigrant.” Her flow is unexpected and delivered with an easy confidence. There is no hint of arrogance in her stage presence, she is utterly kooky. If you are a parent, go buy her ticket and release your guilt. She says the things we’ve all thought.