Review: Harriet Kemsley – Slutty Joan

A powerful show from Harriet Kemsley in defence of Slutty Joan’s everywhere

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 11 Aug 2018
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Harriet Kemsley

Harriet Kemsley is having her own #MeToo moment. It happens right at the end of her show Slutty Joan and is led up to with dignity, respect and plenty of stories about consensual joyous misadventure, both sexual and alcohol-related.

And therein lies the message, obvious to some of us but apparently not to others – sexual assault is not sex and no matter what we do in the run up to it, it is not our fault. In an age when women are still called sluts for having sex with a lot of guys, and guys are legends for doing the same thing, there’s still along way to go.

Kemsley’s star is rising year on year but she’s probably currently best known for her recent Viceland series Bobby and Harriet Get Married with real life husband comedian Bobby Mair, amusingly referred to here as Mr Harriet Kemsley.

Kemsley notes there is often a dig included in her reviews, one saying that she seems like a character but she’s not, but it’s only because her demeanour is so charmingly unique. She can appear slightly and deceptively dizzy, but in reality she’s fully clued up with tack-sharp comic sensibilities.

She takes us on a journey from her all-girls school in Canterbury, the delights of discovering fingering to the joy of not getting black-out drunk on a night out. But then towards the close of the show, she’s suddenly, momentarily serious revealing her trauma. It’s a subtle moment, almost casual, yet hugely powerful.