Fringefeed Woodside

Kate Smurthwaite

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How often do you see a vastly experienced comedian who is genuine? Not often, but this is your chance.

Kate Smurthwaite doesn’t work with a persona-driven facade. She is relaxed, chatting with people in the audience without a shred of pretence.

There’s no need for a warm-up act, with the comic seamlessly breaking the ice before the show’s even started. Without labouring the point, she also succeeds in reassuring everyone that she doesn’t pick on the crowd.

Launching into a conversational stand-up set, Smurthwaite skilfully laces classic comedic structures with observational humour and an array of gloriously apt similes.

Not just similes, but comparative humour that serves to build on a concept, escalating until the punchline has us dissolving in laughter.

This is a show that deals with sex, politics, online abuse, and more. There are no goofy gags and it’s all the better for it.

Confidently working material that clearly hasn’t been tweaked to pander to a non-British audience, Smurthwaite empowers us with the realisation that we do know global politics and we don’t need generic local knowledge jokes to have laugh.

Much of the success of stand-up lies in the delivery. This is something Smurthwaite is clearly accomplished in. To hold an audience’s attention while delivering a performance that features a relaxed pace is not a simple task, and yet she makes it look so, so easy.

A deft use of call-backs supports the overarching narrative of the show while the tone ebbs and flows from accessibly easy-going to delightfully dark humour.

Although some transitions weren’t as smooth as others, this show was engaging throughout. Even tech failure had no chance of impeding the performance, with Smurthwaite choosing to perform a voice over live as we watched a YouTube video on-screen.

Smurthwaite’s show feels like a conversation with an old friend.

A hilarious, politically astute friend who for some reason has brought a projector with them and does almost all of the talking, but someone you still wish you could see more of.

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Review by Jasmine Seabrook-Benson on 03 Feb 2019

Jasmin Seabrook-Benson is a freelance writer, editor, and poet. Her work has appeared in publications including The West Australian, Underground Writers, FringeFeed and Buzzcuts. She is also co-founder and editor of Gutter Culture. Jasmin goes by the abbreviation 'JSB' as a kindness to the average attention span.