Leicester Comedy Festival review: Harriet Kemsley at the Globe

Review by Anna McKittrick

Abstinence may be on the American education syllabus; however, this is not a school of thought that Harriet Kemsley conforms to.

Kemsley sheds light on the current wave of comedians implicated in the #MeToo movement. Hello, Louis CK and Bill Cosby.

Slutty Joan discusses the intricate relationship between sexual assault and slut-shaming and victim blaming that forces women to stay silent about their experiences.

The Slutty Joan of the title is not a product of Kemsley’s imagination but based on a real study at Cornell University, which showed women were perceived to be less likeable, emotional or competent if they had numerous sexual partners. Whereas for men, the higher the number, the higher the bragging rights. An archaic, destructive stereotype Kemsley is keen to eradicate.

This heavy subject matter is balanced out by a series of staccato anecdotes involving drunken mistakes, questionable sexual partners and just blatant silliness to highlight how sexual assault should never be something that ‘just happens.’

Kemsley’s own #MeToo testimonial is the driving force behind the whole show. She candidly admits that she wasn’t planning on writing the show until the power of the campaign inspired her to write the material and confess her own experience.

Slutty Joan is a frank, open and unfortunately, socially important addition to the voices advocating for an end to slut-shaming and the objectification of female bodies.