Kiri Pritchard-McLean - "I'm actually semi-dreading doing it again!"
Bradley Goodspeed of BN1 Magazine spoke with Kiri Pritchard-McLean ahead of her visit to TOM as part of our Reigning Women season.
I first knew Kiri Pritchard-McLean would be a joy to interview when she answered the phone with “Hello love, are you well? I’m just gonna find somewhere with signal and a bit of privacy. I don’t know if the two exist.” She tells me that she’s having a lovely Wednesday morning going through the sketches for this week’s Newsjack.
I’m calling to chat to her about her show Victim Complex, coming to Hove’s The Old Market this month. The whole concept of the show is basically one big anecdote exploring lies, infidelity and gas lighting, where the ‘victim’ (Kiri) has been put into a position in her life where she was victimised without realising. Because she’s a self-proclaimed “tough cookie and a loudmouth and obnoxious”, nobody could believe it was happening - including her. When I question Kiri on how she deals with performing such a deeply personal experience, she proclaims: “Ugh, it is so personal, to the point that I’m actually semi-dreading doing it again! Every night you’re like ‘oh god you’ve gotta relive this’ but then I don’t really know how else to write stand-up”.
Kiri tells me she started the show with no expectations, but that it was something she had to do for herself to get through what had happened to her; a kind of therapy. “There was just so much gossip about what was happening, so I just wanted to tell my own story. It made me feel more empowered which is something I didn’t expect. What I did expect was to cry every single day - and I actually managed not to do that!”
So far, Victim Complex has been widely well-received and has had praises sung by critics for its candid and personal form of comedy. And while Kiri was aware that some of the audience would identify with the commentary, she had not anticipated quite how many would. “I was aware early on that it would strike a chord with people because my memory of doing early previews was just rooms full of nodding women and them being like, ‘preach, sister’. I’ve received hundreds of messages over the course of the tour, from people who had been through a similar thing. So, one weird side effect of performing my show is me realising that it’s really common and I’m not alone - which really makes me feel that I was right to speak out about it”.
Not one to shy from the darker side of comedy, there was a different production in the works before Victim Complex became Kiri’s brainchild - an ‘absolute laugh-riot’ about speaking with non-offending pedophiles as a critique to the attitudes surrounding politically correct culture. “I think there’s not enough empathy around and people can be very quick to cast judgement. It’s a group everyone struggles to empathise with”.
While the show at the moment is on the back burner while Kiri tours Victim Complex, she’s quick to defend her thought process. “I think that if you say stuff on stage then you have to be prepared for people to respond to it, if they are responding to it then they have to be prepared for you to defend it. I don’t say anything on stage that I can’t back up, no one will have thought through my joke more than me”.
I ask Kiri Pritchard-McLean, the comic who doesn’t think she’s doing a good job unless her dad gets her jokes, how she would describe her style of comedy. She deliberates before eventually answering: “Accessible, rude and smarter than it deserves to be”.
Kiri may have made a name for herself over the last few years for this exact brand of comedy, but after her show has concluded, you can expect her to be slumming it like the rest of us on the train home listening to an audiobook and eating a bag of crisps. “It’s my perfect wind-down! It’s not like I go out and party, I never really drink; I’ll just try and get home and in bed as quickly as I can and self-medicate with RuPaul”.
I think that’s something we can all get on board with.