Review: Harriet Kemsley: Slutty Joan at The Voodoo Rooms

It’s almost a certainty that you will leave Harriet Kemsley’s show wishing the comedian was your friend.

No, scratch that – you’ll feel like Kemsley is your friend as she talks animatedly about drunken cinema-going, status updates from an old flame on Facebook, and what happens when your parents read your teenage diary. Initially, the show feels a lot like the type of funny, anecdote-heavy conversation you have in your best mate’s living room on a Saturday night. Later – when Kemsley delves into her past and shares her own #MeToo story – it feels a lot like the type of conversation we need to be having, again and again, until something changes.

Kemsley zips through the first half of her set at lightning speed, doling out, with endless charm, personal tales that send her audience into peals of laughter. She tackles different topics – fairly light ones – with boundless energy, keeping things honest and self-deprecating in the process.

Then Kemsley poses something to her audience: “we’re gonna go a little bit dark now, is that ok?” What follows is a candid discussion of consent, victim blaming, and slut-shaming, and Kemsley speaks openly about her own experiences. While comedy shows don’t necessarily need to have a message embedded in them to be considered worthy of praise, Kemsley’s show does have a message – and she delivers it brilliantly.

Kemsley expertly welds humour with discussion of important social issues to create a thoroughly thought-provoking show. While some might find the speed at which Kemsley flies through her set a little dizzying, this is a hilarious, emotional example of comedy that has something to say.

Harriet Kemsley: Slutty Joan, The Voodoo Rooms, 15-25 Aug, 5.55pm

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