Comedian and actress Katherine Ryan wants you to learn from her mistakes
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Katherine Ryan – the Canada and UK based comedian who made her name with popular Netflix comedy specials In trouble and Sequins room; the devastating short-lived series The Duchess, and his podcast Tell everyone everything – was called a lot of things. Here are some examples of choices: “arrogant”, “dirty”, “breaking the ball”. You understand the basics.
It’s all part and parcel of a 38-year-old woman projecting confidence, especially in an industry dominated by the male ego. For her, it is about choosing to have “the audacity”. Which, in this case, is also the name of his new ironic memoirs.
“I’m very daring on stage, and a lot of that was because I had to channel that part of me into a medium where it was tolerated,” she says. “It wasn’t cool having my personality and my caustic types of observations. Me and a lot of women get criticized for it on stand-up. People will say, ‘Oh… she’s mean, she’s caustic.’ They have specific words that they use just for us.
That this wasn’t the most favorable way to be – at least, in a man’s eyes – was clear during her tenure as the Hooters waitress in Toronto, and in her many difficult romantic relationships, which she talks about at length. in his book.
“Growing up, I had a lot of raised eyebrows and weird looks,” she recalls. “When I worked at Hooters you were supposed to be a charming, servile, non-threatening decoration, so this is definitely not the place to be daring. And then I had relationships where I wasn’t really able to be myself either. But it had to go somewhere, so it went to my stand-up.
But those experiences served a purpose, she says, because they helped her channel who she was into her job and ultimately be that woman full-time, on and off stage.
“In my worst relationship, where I was reduced to being like a comic book woman, that’s when my stand-up really blossomed and that’s when I am. became the Katherine Ryan that I am now. She does not take prisoners, she is courageous.
But there’s another part of Ryan, too: a more sensitive part that’s incredibly endearing. It was evident in our conversation, but also present – if you take a good look – in The Duchess, in Tell everyone everything, and especially in Daring, which looks a lot like a sassy origin story told by a close friend. This tenderness seems necessary here, as the book functions in part as a self-help tool, explaining everything to the reader, from “how to let the murder of your friend define all of your relationships” to “how to stay reserved and busy” to ” how to attract toxic men … and keep them interested!
“I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to show too much sweetness or introspection in stand-up, where the pace is full of punchlines,” says Ryan. “But life isn’t like that, and I think with any comedian, if you take them off the stage and get to know them, we’re softer. When I was doing my podcast in containment, I loved the connection I have with listeners, who write to me for advice. They really responded in a way I never expected, I didn’t think anyone would care or listen to my show, but it was the sweetness, the real me that they connected with. And I realized that I had never really shown this before.
In fact, the more platforms Ryan has tried, the more authentic it looks. As she says, “comedy is comedy” which means as long as you’re funny you can translate your work into any field, be it a book, TV show, or movie (this which she hopes to address next). The key opens and, in Ryan’s case, that’s okay.
“Do you know the languages of love?” For me, the way I achieve intimacy with people is through disclosure. I like to meet someone and have no little conversations. I want to know everything about you, like, how your dad got sick and died, “she said said, only a little jokingly. “I really feel trustworthy and respected when someone can open up to me, and that’s why I open up. I think the best thing is to be totally transparent and tell everyone everything.
In Ryan’s case, that includes sharing details about when his childhood friend was murdered, which left him with a trauma that still lingers. And moving with her life to Sarnia, “where there seemed to be only one way to grow up,” to Toronto for school, then to London to follow a boyfriend. And to become a single mom to daughter Violet (now 12) while struggling to make ends meet. And, toughest of all, to come off the stage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe only for Child Protection Services to call him and tell him they were investigating allegations made about him – allegedly by an ex simply seeking to take revenge.
Today, after two difficult miscarriages which she naturally spoke openly about, Ryan is also a mom to son Fred, born in June, and happily married to her high school boyfriend Bobby Koostra. This beloved new family life – a life Ryan never thought was intended for him – is already influencing the sequel, including his upcoming UK comedy tour, Missus. She also has a new series, Behind the Scenes with Katherine Ryan, which will feature live stand-up sets from beloved and emerging comedians. It is expected to air on Amazon Prime in 2022.
In the meantime, she hopes Daring will remind readers of some important lessons she has learned along the way.
“I feel like all of my mistakes were necessary,” Ryan says. “I don’t regret them, and I hope the message of the book is that your life is meaningless when everything is in front of you. But I promise you it will, and that you should go on and on, no matter what is going on in your life. I have certainly come a long way. … I tried to become this idea of what a nice woman should be; I put so much energy into being pretty, calm and gentle. And now I realize, all of my dreams can come true without being these things. You can be genuine to who you are and still do what you want.
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