In conversation with Kiri Pritchard-McLean

On the 27th April I went to York to see the wonderful Kiri Pritchard-Mclean preform her show Appropriate Adult. As someone who has worked with young people for the last 7 years and is almost a social worker, it really resonated with me. Kiri discusses volunteering at a local youth centre and mentoring kids, describing the difficulties with these relationships in a warm and very funny way. I was lucky enough to speak to Kiri on the phone a few weeks before to discuss her show and how we can all do our bit to make the world a bit better.

“My show is about working with a young person and is basically a massive impassioned plea for everyone to volunteer. It’s a bit dark I guess because *spoiler alert* it’s not a happy ending with this young person but that’s exactly why we all need to give a shit. I’m on a one-woman crusade for everyone to be volunteering!” Having a socially conscious show seems very important to Kiri, she explained: “My first show was about systemic sexism and racism and our own prejudices, and then this one is about this kid, and me not wanting to have children biologically but wanting to have children, and how our age group have stopped breeding. Then [how] the third show sort of elbowed its way in is because of my recent experiences in a relationship. It’s about trying to empower women to break the wall of silence if they are unhappy about something and not to worry about looking like ‘one of those crazy girls’.”

Discussing topics that can make people uncomfortable is not an easy task, but highlighting why these topics are not talked about is essential to changing the conversation. For example, periods: something 50% of the population have but something can still be seen as taboo, but not to Kiri! “I deliberately and constantly talk about my period, there is no boy in my life that doesn’t know exactly what day of my period I’m on and it’s because I should be able to talk about that just like other people talk about anything else that happens to them. I’m quite lucky because mine have been alright but the amount of my friends that have been diagnosed with endometritis recently and for the whole-time people have passing it off as ‘just period pain’ when in fact they have been living with chronic pain and scaring on their womb. People are trying to shut down the embarrassing conversations or tell us that it is in our head. Let’s all talk about ragging all the time!”

She goes on to say: “One of the brilliant things about stand-up is that you can reclaim your narrative. So rather than have everyone else tell you what you are as a woman, or as a comedian, or a fucking Welsh person, or a size 14 or whatever, you get to go: ‘No, no, no, you don’t tell me what I am, I tell you what I am and what I am living!’ You get to set the fucking record straight!”

There can be drawbacks to this though: “When you are strong it can make people believe that you are incapable of being vulnerable. I didn’t realise that I had made this trade-off and I don’t get to be the maligned party, I always have to be the aggressor, and that feels unfair. I didn’t realise that I made an invisible choice […] We do play roles; my stage persona is quite high status, bit of a twat, know it all, but behind closed doors with my partner I’m a much softer much more vulnerable version of myself but because people don’t see that they just assume it doesn’t exist.”

Something I often ask women who are fighting for a better world is how they stay hopeful for the future when there is so much going wrong. Kiri gave some really good advice: “You know the world is fucked but you don’t know where to start. We are the closest to peace time that we have ever been, which is positive, but things like the planet are in danger and I guess you control what you can and make differences where you can. So, I have just recently gone vegan, but I spoke to a climate change scientist and asked what the most effective way I can help and he said to go vegan. I’m fortunate enough that I have an education and financially I’m alright; I understand food poverty is a thing and it is not an easy choice everyone can make, but it is one that I can make so I have done. […] You just control what you can, because otherwise you can get very depressed and anxious about it. I genuinely think we are lucky in the next generation. Kids at the moment are so fucking switched on and they aren’t going to take any shit! They are so much more ahead when it comes to gender and race, not everyone, but there are kids who are largely integrated, so I feel really hopeful about the next generation, hopefully they can clean up the mess our fucking parents made!”

If you want to keep up to date with Kiri you can find her literally everywhere! She is touring Appropriate Adult until the end of May and will be in Edinburgh with her new show: Victim, complex. Whilst at the Fringe, she is also doing live All Killa, No Filla podcast recordings with co-host Rachel Fairburn, keep an eye on the blog for more Kiri chat soon with an extra post about the podcast. If you want even more you can see her touring with A Musical and writing and directing with sketch comedy group Gain’s Family Gift Shop.

Megan Jones

Image: Drew Forsyth

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