A Piggy Interview WithKate Smurthwaite (Clit Stirrer)

Performer: Kate Smurthwaite
Photograph by: Charlotte Barnes
Show: Clit Stirrer
Venue: Banshee Labyrinth – Cinema Room
Promoter: PBH Free Fringe
Online: Box Office Facebook Website


Tell me about your Edinburgh show.

It’s called Clit Stirrer. It’s about my reputation as some sort of outrageous public figure when actually I’m a nice quiet homely sort.


Tell me about your first gig.

It was alright. It was also a very long time ago. I have it on video. Whenever I watch it I think “didn’t I used to have great skin?” and also “will anyone notice if I masturbate?”.


Do you have any rituals before going on stage?

Yes, I write a full hour of material that makes interesting points and is littered with actual punchlines.


Tell me about your best and worst review.

I’m a very specific kind of act, left wing, overtly political, feminist, atheist, high brow… I attract a very specific crowd. It’s a bit stupid to compare my work to a pleasant individual doing endearing observational comedy. When someone comes to review my work and it IS their thing I’ve had a bunch of glowing five-star reviews. And on the other hand a fair few reviewers saying that I seem strangely opinionated and they’re not really sure about that. Chortle once called me “too alpha female”.


During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?

Yeah, I read reviews. They’re a great way to figure out whether or not I respect the writer.


How do you feel about reviewers generally?

I’m overwhelmingly compelled to buy them drinks and casually leave money in their jacket pockets. I’ve been in this industry a decade and a half and I’ve never had a review from a UK national paper. I’m a woman in her 40s, I know better than to assume I’ll even get reviewed.


In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?  

Yup. Incitement to racial hatred. I think we’re being suckered into the alt-right headspace by even imagining there’s a debate to be had. Even if you disagree – it’s a small fine. There are people dying because of Theresa May’s austerity program. The health service is being sold off. There’s a war in Syria.


Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?

Not subjects, no. But you should always ask yourself what point you’re making. There are jokes that ridicule sexism and challenge it. And there are jokes that reinforce it and make light of it. When people try to justify nasty sexist material by saying “it gets a laugh” I think they must be very needy. And very bad at writing jokes.


Have you ever gone too far?

Only on first dates.


Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.

Hammersmith Apollo when I MCed for People’s Assembly with Mark Steel and Mark Thomas. Although I thought I made the biggest splash that time they put me on Question Time. That’s the job I was born for!

Kate Smurthwaite was talking to Wrigley Worm.

Published Thursday, June 21st, 2018

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