FOTF Revisited: Feminism and Serial Killers - Kiri Pritchard-MacLean, then and now. by J McDermott

Fringe time is rolling round again, as I know all to well living with a stand up comedian. And in the run up, I want to share some of the interviews with comedians from my book Females Of The Fringe (2014).

When I met Kiri Pritchard-MacLean in 2013, she was sharing an hour, engaging audiences on the topic of feminism and, in her words, just working away at getting really good. In 2017, after a successful debut show, she is bringing her second solo hour Appropriate Adult to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She also hosts the All Killa No Filla podcast with fellow comedian Rachel Fairborn on a topic that many, including myself, find both grizzly and irresistibly fascinating: serial killers.

Kiri Pritchard McLean

You can read the interview from Females Of The Fringe with Kiri here.
And the book is available to buy in my online shop.

JM: Can you tell me a bit about your comedic style?

KP: Because I gig a lot in the North West I try and make sure my gag rate's quite high. There's a tiny bit of hidden politics and feminism in there, but it's mainly about my family and my background really.

JM: And what's your show about this year?

KP: My goal as a comic is just to be good. So this year it's about trying to get secretly better in a little room somewhere. It talks a lot about my background because I'm Welsh and I didn't realise until I moved to England that that had made such an impression on me. It's about my rural background and then me starting to think about my childhood now I'm getting very broody.

JM: How long have you been doing the Fringe for?

KP: This is my first year properly performing, so it will be a while before my first hour, but this is a good taster I think of how it's going to be.

JM: And how long have you been doing stand up in general?

KP: I started in 2010 properly, so about three and a half years.

JM: How are you finding Fringe audiences compared with circuit audiences?

KP: Well, this is funny actually, because I've got quite an early show, I was like great, I'm going to do the Fringe, I'm going to get to do the kind of stuff that I want to do. So I'd written loads of stuff about feminism, but the kind of audiences that we're getting in don't want to hear about feminism at quarter past one in the afternoon. So, it's trying to find the balance of doing stuff that makes me happy and doing stuff that's not going to alienate an audience or put people on edge. It's not like I'm not willing to challenge people but there's kind of a time and a place – it's a bit darker my stuff about feminism.

JM: Is the feminism material based on experience?

KP: I've sorted decided if I'm going to be standing onstage for five, ten minutes, an hour then wouldn't it be nice to be actually saying something, as opposed to just saying words. So it's talking about things that get me excited or get me passionate. I think misogyny gets thrown round a lot in material, I don't think people are connecting with what they say. I'm going to be judged on everything that I say, so I want to make sure that I definitely mean everything that I'm saying. The reaction from people when they know you do stand up, 'Ooh, good for you,' like it's a real kind of surprise, I talk about that a little bit in my set, about how my dad behaves towards it. But yeah me as well, I have this real bad thing, I tried to grow out of it a bit but I get furious if I see a girl die onstage because I'm like, 'Well done!' And it's not fair because I'm putting all the pressure of a load of gender stereotypes onto one person.

JM: And everybody dies onstage, even when they're really good.

KP: Yeah and I never watch anyone who's Welsh and go, 'Unbelievable, you're letting the side down!' But I would do it to a girl. I'm starting to try and stop it now because there's all sort of reasons of why people die onstage and yeah gender's nothing to do with it. Not like I never die, that's not the case at all. And that's what I really beat myself up for after gigs because I'm like well everyone in that room, who maybe had a thought that girls aren't funny, you've just confirmed that for them now.

JM: It's a hell of lot of extra pressure to heap onto yourself though.

KP: Yeah I suppose it is, but I'm going to find something to pressurise myself about, so I'll stick to gender for now.

JM: In terms of audience reactions or promoters, is there any particular incident or heckle that sticks out in your mind?

KP: I probably get more people saying it's brilliant seeing a young lady doing it than saying anything negative. You get that a lot from older ladies. It's a nice thing, but it's weird because I've just never ever thought about my gender being important in anything until I started doing comedy. Everyone's like, 'Oh, aren't you brave'. And it's like, 'Am I?' I'm not fighting a war, I'm just telling knob gags.

 

Anne Boleyn - the original Brexiteer? by J McDermott

Anne Boleyn

In 1525, Henry VIII was wanting of a male heir and growing impatient. And it seemed highly unlikely that his wife Catherine would be able to produce one. At the same time, he grew enamoured with Anne Boleyn. She was young, beguiling, and refused his advances. Even married women would not refuse his advances.

Time passed and Henry considered the options in his quest for that all-important male heir, but the one he favoured most was to make Anne his wife. This was not that easy, but he concocted a plan. He appealed to the Pope to annul his first marriage on the grounds that he should never have been able to marry his brother’s wife. This was refused. And so eventually he decided to break away from Rome as well as Catherine, beginning a series of events that led to the English Reformation.

To be clear, the reformation aligned with some movements already occurring within the country and throughout Europe affecting opinions on the Catholic Church and the practices of Christianity. But this move on Henry’s part, certainly played to his own interests. If we were to parallel this break from Rome with modern day Brexit, Anne Boleyn would be a key figure in the leave camp. Her promise to deliver a son was a dogged slogan slapped on the side of a bus. It’s unclear how devout she was to the Protestant cause, but, it would be fair to say, that convincing Henry not to remain with his wife was a unmistakable power play for the top.

I do like Anne Boleyn though. She was intelligent and she surprised and outplayed a lot of people. She refused to succumb to a traditional female role during Henry’s pursual of her or as his wife. Of course, it didn’t work out that well for her in the end, but she certainly left her mark. And her daughter Elizabeth, once she made it to the top, refused to ever become a wife or a mother, and proved herself to be far more of a strong and stable leader than Edward, Henry’s eventual male heir.

Trumperfly by J McDermott

Trumperfly.jpg

Originally made as Brexit Butterfly in response to the EU referendum, it's now even more fitting.

An homage to Ray Bradbury's A Sound Of Thunder, recasting myself as the the lead character Eckels, who goes back to prehistoric times and by erroneously stepping on a butterfly, changes the course of history. When he set off, a new liberal American President had just been announced, defeating a candidate described as an anti-human, anti-intellectual who would have brought about the worst kind of dictatorship.

“Unbelievable.” Eckels breathed,[…] “A real time machine[…] Makes you think. If the election had gone badly yesterday, I might be here now running away from the results.”

On his return, the political situation has completely changed. He can't believe it could be due to him. But as he surveys the sole of his shoe, there lies a crushed butterfly. He cries out: “No, it can’t be. Not a little thing like that. No! […] can’t we take it back, can’t we make it alive again? Can’t we start over?…”

 

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