Fame the podcast is back!
A look back at a favourite episode with Katherine Ryan
This column is a bit of a shameless plug, I hope you will allow me. The second series of my podcast Fame launched the other day. I’m so excited for this series, it features some incredible names discussing what celebrity actually does to the inside of their head. The first episode features Dannii Minogue. You can listen to it here. If anyone at Substack ever helps me out with it, I’d like to start uploading them directly to here. no such luck with that yet. As a taster of the kinds of chats you’ll find on Fame, I wanted to feature here one of my favourite interviews I did for series one, with the inimitable Katherine Ryan. She’s a brilliant stand-up comedian, as you know, but she’s also warm, generous, honest and definitely not a bitch. Read on, you’ll see.
Katherine Ryan, welcome to Fame.
Thank you for having me on Fame! And you look amazing. It’s wasted on a podcast, how cool you look.
Oh, you’re very sweet. I’ve been filming today. But I also made an effort for you because you’re a famous person.
I’m very famous. It’s true.
You are – and this is why I wanted you on the podcast. It’s all about the relationship that you have in your own head with your celebrity. Is it something that you think about very often?
I don’t think any comedian is super-famous unless you do Strictly, because we aren’t chased around by paps and we are so totally transparent about our private lives that no one’s interested in prying into our private lives. When you see someone actually famous, then they’re recognised everywhere. For me, I’m born with a natural disguise of just looking like crap when I haven’t got makeup on. So I can go anywhere and do anything. I don’t think about it a lot. But I definitely call myself ‘TVs Katherine Ryan’ when I’m all done up. I’ll be like, ‘Oh, I’m not TV’s Katherine Ryan today. So sure, we can go out to lunch, we can go to the shop.’ Nobody cares when it’s just me.
That can’t be true. I don’t think it’s possible that you don’t get approached in public.
I do a little bit, but mostly only if I speak. So if I’m quiet, then people don’t recognise me. And I think right now, as soon as they hear my voice, they might say something. Or, I do think about something… you know, like this space of children and sharing their images on social media and being online, what started to happen since I’ve had my most recent baby, Fenna, eight weeks ago, is that a babysitter takes Fred out every once in a while to the park instead of me doing it. And people have said to her, ‘Oh, that’s Katherine Ryan’s son. Is that Katherine Ryan’s son? I remember him from Instagram.’ And I go, ‘Oh my god, the baby is famous?’
We’ll get on to what it must be like for your kids. But it’s interesting what you were saying about, that no one’s interested in comedians because you just talk about your private lives. But is that a defence mechanism? Because to me, being in stand-up comedy, and being famous for stand-up comedy, it’s is the one area where you do have to be really revealing, and really exposing of your inner self.
I do think that, because even as… you know, I’m someone who’s on television sometimes, but also I watch a lot of television. And I remember before the days of social media, actors and actresses didn’t give a lot away, and you didn’t really know what was going on with their personal lives unless you saw it in a magazine or they were followed. And it made me very curious about their personal lives. And then someone who just gives it to me on a platter, either they post it if they’re not a stand-up comedian, or they talk about it – at length and in great detail – if they are a stand-up comedian, then I feel like I don’t need to wonder about them so much. It takes the mystique away, I think.
And with actors or maybe musicians, they can always say, “Well, I just wanted to be a musician, and becoming famous was just part of the by-product.” But to me, it seems like when you’re a comedian, and you’re successful for being a stand-up comedian, you’re talking about yourself. You can’t pretend that you didn’t want to get on stage and have everybody looking at you.
No, you’re right. The whole thing is attention-seeking from the very beginning. Very controlled, because it’s just you. You don’t have a band and there’s no scripts that you can hide behind. It’s just like, “Me, me, me, look at me and listen to this story that I am going to tell you about me.” Yes, it really is.
And so where did that motivation come from in you? Take me back to little Katherine in Canada and your first awarenesses of what it meant to be famous and what your ambitions were in that respect.
It’s funny, because I would walk around the school saying that I was famous. I was bullied for a period of time for just being an unusual child in a very small-minded, small town. So I always loved musical theatre, and I had strange teeth, and I had strange ideas. I was valued for being funny in my family and in my home, but at school, most people just thought I was very strange. But you find your tribe wherever you are, so I was friends with other strange children. And we had a lovely time, but they would get upset and they would say, ‘Nobody likes us. We’re being bullied. We’re being talked about.’ And I would say, ‘Yes, we’re famous.’ ‘We’re not famous, everybody hates us.’ I’d go, ‘Yes, that’s being famous. We’re famous. Everybody talks about us. And they go out of their way to say nasty things. And everyone knows who we are. We’re famous.” And then I became popular once I sort of recalibrated things, I got my braces off, I was acceptably attractive, in the late 90s. And then once again, everyone was like, ‘Those are the bitchy girls, those are the mean girls.’ And I would, again, walk around like, ‘We’re famous. Everyone talks about us. We’re famous.’ So I always had an experience of being looked at or singled out or different. And I think I just wanted to own that. It was much better being famous for reasons you could control rather than just everyone hates you and bullies you.
That’s just mind-blowing because I was bullied at school for looking different, being freakishly thin. And I would have I used to hide in baggy clothes and skulk around the corridors, because to me, the worst thing in the world was, ‘That’s her, look at her. That’s the one I was telling you about.’ Whereas you framed that completely differently.
I should have been your friend in high school, I would have explained to you how famous you were. But I think it makes sense in a behavioural science, evolutionary, animal way. It totally makes sense for teenagers to want to be invisible and to want to blend in. Currently my daughter’s 13 and I am struggling with her desire to be very ordinary. I’m always a little bit disappointed that that’s the way it is, but I do understand that I was the exception. It’s so totally normal for most kids just to want to blend in.
That’s her pattern of rebellion because you’re the one out there, you’re the one famous, and she’s rebelling against what her mother is.
Yes, it’s funny with kids. In a way, they’re impressed – especially by that age group. She likes to use it to her advantage. But then sometimes she sees the disadvantages of it, too. She’ll say, ‘Oh, my teachers listen to your podcast,’ or, ‘Oh, I think so-and-so is being extra nasty to me in class because they know that you’re my mum.’ ‘I think my computer science teacher hates you, and so he hates me.’ I’m like…
Oh, my God.
Do you ever self-edit in that respect, then? I was wondering what it’s like. I saw her very funny reaction to your Masked Singer reveal where she was just like, ‘Oh, my God, Mum, this is so embarrassing.’ Does that give you pause as they get older?
I think it’s really important for everyone’s children, regardless of whether or not the parent is on television, or a comedian, or whatever they do, a computer systems analyst, it doesn’t matter. I think it’s really important for children to see you as a person different from you the effigy, as their mother and an extension of them. And I think Violet has always seen that I’m a person and I have a career, and she knows the difference between what TV’s Katherine Ryan does and who I am. As long as I’m not directly talking about her or divulging too much about her, I carry on and I say and do whatever I want about sex or about myself or about my own life. I don’t think about her because, at the end of the day, when she does criticise me – and she does – I go, ‘Oh, well that paid for your school,’ or like, ‘All right, give back the laptop, then.’ Because this is my job and I’m going to do it how I see fit. But I am very careful about her privacy. So the older she gets, I don’t really talk about things in her life anymore. And I will privately tell you about the things I wish I could talk about. They are so funny. And I wish that I could talk on stage all about the trials and tribulations of 13-year-old Violet, but I can’t. So I do have a moral compass in that regard.
Yes, they can be so cruel, teenage girls, and no more so than to their mothers. Some of the things that my 17-year-old says, even just getting dressed in the morning, and she’ll say, ‘I thought you said you had to look nice today.’ I think she probably possibly could have a career on stage.
That is scathing. I never would have said that to anyone. But you know what it is? I think they see themselves in you a little bit. And that’s off-putting. My dad used to have this really good saying where he’d say, ‘That guy’s got something I just can’t stand about me.’ And I think that’s why our teenagers have to break away from us, because it’s creepy when they see the similarities maybe.
Does she call you ‘TV’s Katherine Ryan’?
No, I am not TV’s Katherine Ryan to her. Just very low-key at home. And I think I’m a lot nicer. It still really doesn’t bother me. I feel like I am definitely one of those people... I view myself as for the consumption of others; my job is to entertain people. If I’m entertaining them by making them laugh, that’s ideal. But equally, if I’m giving them some fodder to talk about, or if they really dislike me and they want to talk about me, or they want to make fun of me in a nasty way, I don’t care. I’m one of those people who gives everything, and however they want to metabolise it is up to them. I don’t care at all. But just as of late – I’ll be 40 this year – I’ve started to see like, ‘Oh, people actually really do think I’m a bitch.’ Commissioners, TV executives, everyone. They’ll say, ‘Oh, we worked with Katherine, she’s actually very lovely. We didn’t think that she’d be lovely.’ So people are really believing this stand-up persona. And sometimes just recently that gets me slightly down. There was a treatment for this new thing that I’m doing, and I had to log in to view this treatment. And they said, ‘Yes!’ And I was really excited about the project, and they said, ‘Yes, so you’ll come in, being a bitch like you always are…’ and all the images they had was like Devil Wears Prada and these horrible characters. They were like, ‘There’s you. There’s a being a bitch.’ I thought, ‘Oh my gosh… oh, well…’ But it is interesting to… I don’t think it’s healthy to look at yourself from a third-party perspective necessarily. You shouldn’t. You just live your life. But if I do that lens and look at myself from a third-party perspective, yes – I’m a terrible, terrible bitch.
You might not know this, but you said something to me once that really, really changed me.
And it might sound so obvious and simple to you and listening to you speak now. But I remember we did a podcast when I was at Glamour. And I was talking about something and I said, ‘I’m going to get loads of shit for that.’ And you basically said that no matter what you think someone’s going to be annoyed about it. So you may as well just say what you think. And honestly, it might sound so obvious, but it really changed my life.
So to hear you now say, ‘Oh, actually, I’m starting to get a bit older and get a bit worried about what people think,’ is kind of strange.
Well, it’s not that I’m worried about what people think. I look at the big picture of things, and sometimes when I look at the way that I’m perceived, the bigger picture is how women are perceived and how women are able to behave. And sometimes I find it just a little bit disappointing that of all the different things I’ve got to do, I’m very lucky I get to be very acerbic and caustic sometimes, and I do say exactly what’s on my mind. But I always thought that was underpinned by very obvious thoughtfulness and kindness, but it’s a little bit just generally disconcerting that a woman with an agenda, a woman with an opinion, is automatically a bitch. Yes, do I worry about it? I wouldn’t describe it as worry about it, just sometimes it’s exhausting.
It feels like being authentic really comes with a toll when you’re in the public eye. I saw someone having a pop about you having a picture breastfeeding with a wine glass in the other hand, and you responding to trolls by saying, ‘My kids are smart enough to understand why this is fine, Janice,’ or whatever her name was.
But no matter how much you ‘don’t mind’ what people think, it must batter on some level.
No. And that specifically, I really liked it because I feel like me breastfeeding with a glass of white wine was a very important conversation starter, and I was kind of in the middle of it. And some people were congratulating me for normalising that you can be a breastfeeding mum and still have a glass of wine here and there. And it is scientifically backed that your milk is made from your blood, and if your blood alcohol is even 0.08, which I would never be – that’s the legal limit in the UK – that’s nothing when it’s filtered into breast milk. It’s less alcohol that is orange juice or a banana. But people remember these things they’ve heard somewhere, backed by no proof or no science, and they like to mom shame. So there’s a greater conversation about that. I feel like when I know that I’m right, I don’t get rattled at all by it. I knew that in that instance, I was not only helping more people breastfeed, but also spreading knowledge about something. I don’t care, then, if Mumsnet want to come after me. If I know I’m absolutely right, then I’m fine.
Can you even remember now what it was like the first time you got on stage as a comedian? Because I think you were waitressing at the time, right?
Yes. I was on stage a lot in musical theatre or dance, and because I was a strange child I usually got the strange roles. So I’d be an ugly stepsister. I’d be the ugly best friend. I was always ugly something. And those roles were the most fun because they were comedic. So I wasn’t doing stand-up, but I got to be funny on stage a lot, and I got to be comfortable with being funny on stage a lot. And the one time I was very serious on stage was during the Hooters bikini pageant when I was 19 or 20 years old. I worked at this restaurant in Canada where the girls were definitely for decoration. It’s not a topless bar or anything, but some people think it is. And we’d do a bikini contest in the restaurant every year, like many restaurants.
Like all the best restaurants.
Like you see it in a Miller and Carter Steakhouse. And I won, and I got to be Miss Hooters Toronto and travel and do the pageant. But there was something about being in the bikini and having to be very serious and earnest that bothered me. And the gentleman hosting the pageant, I didn’t think he was doing a very good job. So I asked my manager the next year, ‘Would you let me host the pageant?’ And he said yes. And that was a little bit like stand- up. There was a lot of compering involved in that, I got to be funny and I had a microphone, and I felt very powerful to be the woman in the room of all men patrons – which Hooters isn’t usually, but during the bikini contest it is. I loved that feeling. So I signed up for amateur nights at the comedy club that happened to be next door to the Hooters. And that was the first time I did stand-up. So I was probably 20 or 21. I remember the material. I wrote some ideas – you never really write a script with stand-up, you just have ideas and talk about them. And it went OK, I was OK going just on instinct. And then all these boys at the comedy club just gave me so much advice, unsolicited advice, you should do comedy like this, you need to be like this, more shocking, more swearing, more this and this. And I would watch their comedy and I would listen to their advice. And then I got terrible. I was a terrible comedian in Canada for a solid year, I just got worse and worse.
Because you listened to the boys?
I think so. And I was doing the type of comedy that was really misogynistic and really self-deprecating, because all the comedy I saw around me was like, “My wife is a drag, and women are for consumption, and they’re superficial figures in our lives and should be treated as such.” And so that is the narrative that I was echoing in my comedy. And then I started to find my voice, and then I started to have fun again, and I got better after that.
And what is it like now? When I first started coming to see you it was about single parenthood and struggling in London and things like that. Now you are super loved up, baby number three. Does being happy make it harder to write comedy?
I think being happy is fine, as long as your life can connect with other people and be relatable to other people. And it’s tricky sometimes, because even when I was a single mother I had things to chat about and there were struggles, I was very happy. And I was really happy with my daughter. I’m not one of those parents who ever wants time away from my kids, I want to be with my kids as much as possible. Well, now they kind of annoy me because there are three of them. But when Violet was little, she never bothered me. She was my best friend. She was the love of my life. I’m actually quite nervous that the decade of being a single mother to Violet, and struggling and being poor, I am worried that that might have been the best time in my life. I don’t know if I’ll ever have another decade that was so joyous. But I still found a way to connect to people. And I feel like now I just connect to a different demographic of people, like people who actually love their husbands. This woman came to my door when I was still living in the flat that Violet and I bought. And she knocked on the door and she was crying one day, she was one of the mums from school. I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ And she said, ‘Oh, I just knew that you’d be home. My husband’s very sick and I think he’s going to die.’ And I was like, ‘Well, why are you crying?’ I couldn’t understand why she was so upset. I was like, ‘You just get a new one. What do you mean?’ I didn’t understand that she actually really loved him deeply. He survived, so that’s a good story. But now I have a husband whom I love and adore so deeply, so I can connect with women like her now.
That’s good. That makes me very happy. So you’d got to a certain point in your life where it was baffling, the idea that you could love a man like that.
Well, I didn’t really think anyone loved their husbands that much. I’d heard a lot of people slag off their spouse or relationships, or disparaged… and it’s in a jokey way. No woman in my life growing up ever really loved her husband. I just didn’t believe that people really… I thought people tolerated their spouses. That’s what I thought. And any boyfriend that I had I sort of tolerated, but my life wouldn’t have been really affected by their death.
It’s making me think of the last week. I was talking about my husband having a cold and I didn’t get it. And she said, ‘Isn’t that weird that that happens when you live in the same house?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t touch him.’ And that’s how we all talk about our husbands. It’s so awful. But you are now married – to your childhood sweetheart. You’ve come full circle, it’s all very happy. It’s interesting to me what it must be like to be married to a famous person. Do you think that it’s easier when one person isn’t famous?
Oh, well there’s certainly no competition when one of you is in the entertainment industry and the other one isn’t. Oh, that’s not true though, because actually I do know a lot of people who are quite well known, and they have had ‘muggle’ boyfriends, shall we say?
Is that what you call Bobby?
Well, Bobby’s a muggle. So you can be a wizard or a muggle. As Tim Minchin, the very talented comedian, said to me walking down the street one day – we used to live in the same neighbourhood, he bumped into me – he said, ‘Oh, you broke up with that latest boyfriend. Well, you know, Katherine, you’ve been dating wizards, you’ve got to date a muggle not a wizard.’ And I went, ‘What’s a muggle?’ It just means like a lovely, normal civilian. That’s what a muggle is. It’s not meant to be an insult. But I know, women especially, who are very successful, and they date a carpenter, and he seems fine with it. And then all of a sudden he gets fiercely jealous, and there are issues. So I guess that’s not true. But Bobby specifically loves that I’m on television, and I’m quite well-liked in this country when we go out. And he likes it when people recognise me, and he enjoyed going to Maya Jama’s birthday party, and I think he likes the red carpets that we get to do sometimes, and all the perks – we got to go to an NFL game. He really likes that. And I think he’s proud of what I do. And he always thought I was funny, even when we were children.
Boys weren’t exactly banging down the door when I was that age, I was still strange when Bobby fell in love with me.
Yes, he knew you when you were famous.
Yes, I can’t believe he saw my original breasts.
And he’s come back for more. How old were you when you met?
Fifteen, in high school. He always just really would laugh at my jokes… like, not my jokes, but he just found me very funny. And I was so flattered that there was something he valued about me that I didn’t think was valuable at the time. Because any time that I had an opinion or said something that I thought was funny, most people retracted. They’re like, ‘Why is she saying that? Why is she so weird?’ You could only be one way. And I could see that I was genuinely bringing him joy and that he thought I was funny. And I think he’s very funny, so I’m very lucky to have found him again.
I talk to a lot of people for this podcast, who are always at pains to say, ‘It’s not all glamorous, it’s not all red carpets, it’s not all fun, and sometimes being recognised is exhausting.’ And it’s quite refreshing to hear someone say, ‘Oh, we went to this celebrity party, and it was great.’ Do you like being famous?
Yes. Anyone who tells you they don’t like being famous is lying. Or maybe they’re shy, maybe they’re sensitive, and they did just want to be an actor so that they could pretend to be someone else. I believe that they probably exist. But for the most part, if you go back to being not famous, I think you would feel very invisible all of a sudden. I think you get used to the adulation, and people giving you free things and inviting you places. How can that be annoying to someone? Unless they’re hiding some deep dark secret. Or they’re just rude. I saw that Joan Crawford had a bit in in that film that’s from her real life where she would say, ‘If anyone stops me anywhere, they are the reason that I get to do what I love. So I stop and I say: ‘Thank you for saying hello. Nice to meet you.’” And I felt so connected to that. I mean, exactly. If anyone stops me, no matter what aren’t doing, why would you be unkind? Or why would you be annoyed by that, or inconvenienced by that?
It’s lovely that people want to say hello. But then I’m Canadian, and we all say hello to each other.
That is true. But has there ever been a moment where was like, ‘Dude, this is just not an appropriate time to interrupt me’?
I don’t know if you wanted to take the podcast this dark, but the only time that it has upset me is I was having miscarriages, like back to back. And I was really saddened by that. I felt like I didn’t know if I would ever be able to grow my family with Bobby. I already had Violet, but Bobby and I were trying, we were very unsuccessful. And it was so bothered by that. It’s all I could think about. I became obsessed by, ‘How am I going to fix this? What’s happening? Why is it happening? What’s going to happen?’ And I was just… I wanted more than anything else to have more children. And I took Violet to the Starbucks drive-thru, Violet’s favourite place – you know, you cannot impress that girl with all the celebrity accoutrements. She just wants to go to McDonald’s and Starbucks. But I took her to the drive-thru. And I was really sad. And the gentleman at the drive-thru was so nice, and he gave the coffees out of the window and he went, ‘Oh, my goodness, you’re Katherine Ryan.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, I love what you do.’ He was so kind to us.
He said, ‘Oh, I can’t believe that you’re at my Starbucks. It’s my last day. I’m here from India, I’m studying, and I need to do this and this.’ And he told me all about his life. And he was so excited to meet me. I think he was lonely, and he felt like he knew me because he listens to my podcast or sees me on TV. I’m like a friend. He’s like, ‘Wow, hi.’ He was so excited. Then we drove out of the drive-thru and I just burst into tears.
And Violet was like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ Oh, I said, ‘I don’t want to be Katherine Ryan. I don’t want all these things, these wonderful things where people are kind to me, strangers are kind to me, and everyone gives me wonderful things and smiles when they see me. I don’t want any of that stuff. I just want to have a baby. I just want this one thing. And all the silly shit that I thought was special is meaningless.’ It was the only day I got upset when someone recognised me. And that was my own issues.
No, that’s completely understandable. And what I think if I can say without sounding awful, what I love about that story is because I know that you’ve endured that really painful time. But it really strikes me that you can be that honest and open with your teenage daughter. I think that’s really healthy.
Well, she didn’t think that.
She will one day.
She was trapped in the car, just like banging at the window, ‘Stop crying.’
‘Just let me drink my pumpkin latte.’
Yes, yes. I didn’t know we were going to talk about that. I wasn’t going to raise that.
But the dark subject that I did want to talk to you about, if it’s all right, is that you got a lot of publicity for your Louis Theroux interview. And what you almost said about this big, open secret about a TV personality who’s a known predator.
I watched that interview, like everybody else did, and you got a lot of subsequent press about that. And even my friends and I were like, ‘I wonder who it is.’ Do you feel sometimes a pressure and an obligation that comes with the platform? I completely understand your reasons for not going there, but do you sometimes feel the pressure that people expect you to step up in that way?
No, I don’t really feel the normal things like anxiety or pressure, or that I’m beholden to do what people want or look a certain way. I don’t think about that ever at all. I think I have a very centred idea about what’s right and what’s wrong and what I should do, what I can do and what I can’t do. And I always am guided by that. And the reason that I didn’t name the person, or that I didn’t do any more, is that I did everything that I could do. I told them to their face what I believed them to be. And the funny thing about, ‘Well, why wouldn’t you name him? Name him, name him.’ I wouldn’t have been able to do that, or else Louis Theroux, and the production company, and the BBC would have been sued. Because you can’t just go around naming people. But the other thing is, authorities and journalists and everyone else already know who it is, and they’re not looking for his name. When they ring me up, they’re asking for the women’s names. That’s whose names they want. They go, ‘Well, you can’t prove it with what you know. But you know the women who can prove it, will you give us their names?’ And I go, ‘No, I won’t. Because if they wanted to talk to you, they would. It’s not my business. My business is to believe them, and tell this person to their face what I think – and that’s all that I can do, unless and until those women are ready to take it further.’ But the name that everyone is looking for is not his name. It’s the women’s names, and I would never betray their trust like that.
It’s so frustrating and depressing that fame still is this invisible force field, for men mainly, isn’t it? That person will probably be protected in perpetuity.
I think so, yes.
Even in the wake of Harvey Weinstein, why do you think it never really changes?
I really don’t know. I think it has changed. I think things... I’m peaceful and positive that things are changing. They just might be changing too slowly. There was a moment during Me Too, that women said, ‘We’re not being treated well,’ and then everyone listened for about five minutes. And then lots of other things started happening, and we got distracted.
And then women didn’t matter anymore. It was like, ‘Yes, you got your five minutes. Hang on, there’s an earthquake.’ ‘OK. No, sorry. You’re right. You’re right. I’ll just wait again.’
We move on and something else gets in the news. I don’t know exactly how much of it goes on. Because again, I’m someone who… I don’t feel like I’ve ever been victimised in this industry. People treat me, for lack of a better term, kind of like a man. I don’t know, people tell me what they tell me. But I think it’s surely less prevalent than it used to be. I just have to hold on to that.
I can imagine that you’ve always given an energy of, ‘Don’t fuck with me.’ Was that innate? Or did you learn that in the main streets of high school?
I think part of it was innate. My mum definitely has that energy. My mum, oh my gosh, if people think I’m a bitch - people really, really think my mum is a bitch, and she’s not at all. It’s just her generation. To be assertive in her generation was almost unheard of. So she’s beautiful and very assertive, and was raised with brothers, and a lot of alcoholism around, and she just… yes, my mom fights like a man. But it was honed. I think it was innate, but then it was definitely perfected through my life experiences. And certainly living in a big city all alone from the time I was 19. And working at Hooters, and travelling all around, and I got to go to the Playboy Mansion. I’ve seen a lot of things that have taught me that you could be very easily taken advantage of in certain situations.
Did you did you meet Hugh Hefner? Because I was really struck in the Pamela Anderson documentary that she said he was the only man who ever treated her with respect.
Yes, I mean, I’ve heard mixed things about Hugh Hefner. He’s dead now. So you’re hanging round with Bill Cosby and gave women quaaludes, and I don’t know that he was the perfect example of a feminist. But I’m glad to hear that Pamela Anderson had that experience with him. I only briefly met him, I only briefly said hello. But it was a really busy party and he was an old man by then. So I remember he was sat with his three girlfriends at the time. And when I went over to say hello, the song Who Let the Dogs Out was playing at the party, and he was sort of singing along with the lyrics, but he only really knew the chorus. And he’s like,
“Oh, oh, oh, oh.” And he just looked tired. You know, he’s already in his pyjamas. I’m sure he just wanted to get all these people out of his garden and go to bed.
I think a man half of his age would be tired with three girlfriends.
That’s what I love about polygamy is that the man is never having a good time. He’s always so sad. And always a bit too scared to say because he’s living the supposed dream. So you have to just go along with it.
You must have seen some extraordinary behaviour in your time. Do you ever look at celebrity diva behaviour and think, ‘OK, well, I might have had my moments, but I’m not like that.’
I’ve had zero diva moments, I swear. I’m very grateful to be here every day. And comedians, again, we get treated with a level of realism. We remember what it’s like to die on stage, and we’ve had to go to all around the country on a night bus. It keeps us very humble. I think the worst offenders are probably the newest to become famous. So I think it’s reality stars who have trashed dressing rooms and who’ve expected free work from makeup artists in exchange for exposure and free clothes. And I think they’re very young and they get very carried away – sometimes, not all the time. But that’s how I want my entertainers. I like a bit of trash TV. I want them smashing stuff and turning up late. I love it.
It’s a much better story. Have you ever been starstruck?
Oh, I get starstruck by really strange… not strange, but… it’s not about the level of celebrity. It’s just the specific person that I happen to really like, will leave me very starstruck. Like I met Monica Lewinsky at a party one time.
Well, put in a word! I’ve been trying to get her for this podcast.
Oh! Oh, gosh, she has so much to say about fame, doesn’t she?
Yes. So far she doesn’t want to say it to me. But I just think she’s awesome.
Yes, exactly. I think she’s so awesome. And when I met her, I was like, ‘Oh, Monica Lewinsky!’ And it didn’t matter that like Duran Duran were also in the room. I just wanted to talk to Monica Lewinsky. I thought she was so, so cool. And then sometimes just the big picture of it all leaves me starstruck. I was at a Netflix party in Los Angeles this time last year. It was just to celebrate the new comedy season of things coming out. And because it was comedians there, like Jerry Seinfeld was there, and Dave Chappelle was there. And huge celebrities that I just didn’t imagine ever meeting in real life. Tiffany Haddish was there, Kevin Hart was there. I was like, ‘Whoa, all these amazing comedians that I never thought that I would meet, all in one garden.’ It was really cool. And I find myself in situations that I’m starstruck by.
But they’re your peers. How does that feel?
Jerry Seinfeld is my peer. Of course.
He is. You are one of the greats. You’ve got a Netflix special for fuck’s sake.
Well, yes… I hope to do this job for a very long time. And then maybe one day I could do the things that they’ve done, but no. If you grow up watching someone on TV, you will never be their peer. I’m in the same industry, I’ll put it that way. I get some similar jobs. But no, we’re not the same.
Oh, Katherine Ryan, you are probably the most un-bitchiest bitch I’ve ever met.
I want to thank you for being part of this podcast today and for sharing your experiences of fame. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Jo. It’s so nice to have an adult chat for once.
Well, I try. That’s my adulting done for the day.
You’re going to go and feed that baby now.
I am. I did my own podcast, I did some ads, I did this lovely chat with you. I’m all set.
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