Leicester Comedy Festival: Kathryn Mather, Andrew Ryan and Scott Bennett at Peter Pizzeria

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Review by Kinga Ludwin

An hour zipped by at ‘First Night Funnies’ which offered a trio of stand-ups at Leicester’s Peter Pizzeria.

The winner of the South East New Comedian of the Year 2018, Kathryn Mather doesn’t hold back her punches.

Honesty is a word that neatly encapsulates her style. She makes no attempt to hide her hatred for people who come to the escape room where she works. She doesn’t like kids, she criticises her vegetarian partner and claims the only reason she works as a comedian is an obligation to pay bills.

In a moving, candid and funny set, she tells of her experience with a menstrual cup and of a mum who called her a slag then brings out a trashy magazine with a huge “he beat my baby with a dumbbell” headline on the front page and uses it to prove why we are so brainwashed.

Britain may be out of Europe but Brexit jokes are still in vogue. “This is the first time I am doing a festival outside of the EU,” says Andrew Ryan. It’s a bit of a dad joke, but we can forgive him as the winner of Leicester Comedy Festival’s Best New Show 2018.

Ryan roasts Great Britain from the bottom to the top, naming the UK as the most arrogant country in the world. Donald Trump takes some flak too, but an undeniably  funny set loses me when his focus shifts to cancer.  Maybe that’s just me.

Last but not least is Scott Bennett, a father of two who’s very much the thinking comedy fan’s stand-up. He’s at his best when he homes in on the horrors of keeping his second daughter in a room little bigger than a box. My favourite part, though, is his portrayal of the British at the airport, swigging pints at four in the morning. Scott’s a star.

 

Leicester Comedy Festival review Kathryn Mather – Always Angry (work in progress) at the Cosy Club

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An intimate show set in a cold room soon warms up with Kathryn Mather’s ability to illuminate the stage with her cutting, dark, yet relatable humour, bringing the atmosphere to life.

Mather’s characterful and informal charm makes you feel like you’re catching up with a witty friend from back home.

The Rochdale born and bred children’s entertainer turned escape room employee and comedian already has some serious experience under her belt, from winning South East New Comedian of the Year 2018, to coming third in last year’s Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year 2019.

Although on this occasion many seats at the Cosy Club are left chilly and unused, Mather cleverly works the room by kicking off the show with a classic high school ice breaker. “So, we can all be a little family,” she says, sarcastically. She makes the audience feel comfortable, allowing some elements of judgement to be squashed and forgotten.

She delivers a perfect mix of anecdotal comedy shot through with occasional bursts of darkness, creating an ideal setup for jokes about working zero-hour contracts, the death of a family member, cats and horrible cousins. Her distinctive voice and lively persona drives her passion as she bounces off the audience’s laughter with one sharp-witted comment after another, producing killer gags and engaging puns for students, your mum and probably even your nan.

Mather clearly has a knack for reading a room as she responds to slight awkward silences by interjecting one-liners that are totally, enthusiastically random, but they pay off by leading into a riotous account of a wider anecdotal story.

Her mega-cynical attitude, somewhat bizarre dark thoughts, and naturalistic, organic delivery win well-received laughs, without managing to cause offence. But despite the title, this was a performance without rage, though her sarcastic flair was on show all the way to the end.

She was testing out her new, unheard material but this work-in-progress show has legs. Mather is a joy, and definitely one to watch.