Increasingly best known as the star of the gone-viral Internet video "Atheist Bitchslap", Kate Smurthwaite is a slick, intelligent political comedienne and feminist activist. She works on the major club scene in the UK and abroad and has supported Omid Djalili and Shazia Mirza on tour.
Kate is also a regular writer for international satirical show Double Standards. She has appeared on BBC One, BBC World News, Sky TV and notched up hundreds of appearances on BBC 5Live, BBC Radio Four, BBC Radio Two, TalkSport, LBC and regional and international stations and her annual News At Kate and Comedy Manifesto Edinburgh shows attract a devoted following. She has written for Cosmopolitan, The Guardian, The Mirror, Stylist, Huffington Post, Liberal Conspiracy, The F-Word and Progressive Women.
"A powerhouse of observational wit" The Spectator
"A brilliant comedian" (5 stars) ScotsGay
"There is literally nothing for me to say here ... It really was that good." (5 stars) Broadway Baby
"Comedy that cuts through the crap" ThreeWeeks
Kate: So, thanks ever so much for coming, there might be some more people on their way but we're going to start anyway, and welcome to the first, inaugural... this is Intersect, and you're all here, and that's brilliant. So, I'm Kate, and I'm just going to be introducing what's going on. I'm really a comedian, but I do lefty political comedy, some of you probably have seen my work in one form or another.
And... yeah, so last night we did a big all-women comedy show, which some of you maybe were there and if you missed out on it, what happened actually was that Jane, who some of you will know, went to the Comedy Box in Bristol and picked up a programme, and noticed that only one of the 24 acts listed in the next three months was female, and thought that was a bit crap, and sent me a message saying 'surely there's other women?' and I wrote back and said 'yeah, there's loads of women who are brilliant, who'd love to perform'. So she wrote to Steve, who runs the venue, and he wrote back and said 'I've booked all the women who are any good, the rest are all rubbish'. And...she was unhappy with this answer [laughter] so she decided she would run an all-female comedy night, What The Frock, and that was the first one last night.
There's going to be loads more, there's another one booked for July 8th and that's part of Ladyfest and there's loads coming up. And the show last night was in a much bigger venue than the Comedy Box, and had a much larger audience than Steve thinks he can't get for a show he hasn't put on, dot dot dot dot dot [laughter] and during the interval everyone sent an email to him, to let him know what we thought about one in 24, and how unimpressed we were with that, and I might add that although the woman booked is really a fantastic act, she is like the quietest, smiliest, least-opinionated female act that I've ever met. I mean, not that she isn't entitled to have that as her act, not that it isn't brilliant, that people have a wide range of... but it is literally that thing of going 'who definitely doesn't make me feel like I've got a small penis?' [laughter] 'That's it! Oh, that's it'. It's so, it's so obvious and before the show, we went and had a meal, and I ended up having a bit of an argument with some of the other acts, largely because I said 'oh, I'm just so fed up of trying to get gigs on the comedy circuit, I'm so fed up of being told...oh, you know, of being given excuses and beaten around', and I got told in response that I needed to have a less defeatist attitude and that I need to be more positive.
And it just seemed to me, that it is brilliant to have that attitude of 'oh all let's be positive, let's all be encouraged', but you know what? Occasionally we are actually entitled to turn round and go 'you know what this situation is? It's CRAP'. [laughter] And to actually kind of say it out loud. It's not defeatist if you've been defeated. It's not because you've got a victim mentality, it's because someone else is making you a victim. And you're allowed to say that. And you're allowed to have days where you don't feel like... it's brilliant to have a positive mental attitude, but you're allowed to have days where you go 'you know what? This blows, and it ain't my fault'. And then, you know, immediately we got back to this message, that I hear so much, about feminism and about equal rights, that you know, one day we'll look back on all this and we'll be disgusted by the way women were treated in the early part of the 21st century, you know, 'in 50 years time this will be unbelievable' and I bet they said that to Lucille Ball 80 years ago, and I bet they said that 'well one day, we'll look back on all this...' and the truth is that...yeah, often things are getting better, and lots of brilliant work is being done by lots of brilliant people - but there is no guarantee of success. We're locked in this battle, and that might sound like a really miserable way to start the day [laughter], but we're not...there is no... it's not like it's just going to happen if we don't do it, it's not like the future will inevitably get more liberal, get more open-minded, get more equality-minded, get any of these things, that's not...there's no guarantee of it. Success in the past is no guarantee of future success.
Two days ago, I was up in Oxford having a debate with a really nasty piece of work called Peter Williams from an organisation called Right to Life, who are an anti-choice religious activist group. We were having a debate about whether or not it's a good idea for religious people to stand outside abortion clinics and scream at women, and film them and put them on the internet and hold up pictures of bloodied foetuses and all that crap that they do. And you know, well, he started saying... well, he started trying to draw an analogy between abortion and slavery, which is really classy on his part, but his point was that he should be allowed to hold up pictures of aborted foetuses because you would have considered it acceptable to hold up a picture of a slave who had been very badly brutalised and he saw that as parallel, and of course our response was 'there's no equivalency there, that's ridiculous, what a load of piffle, shut the fuck up' [laughter].
But he lives in this world where he says 'I can only hope in 50 years time we'll look back and see that brief window of time where women were allowed to get abortions and see it as an aberration' and you know, he really believes that the future is heading in his direction, and, you know, I sure hope it's not, but there is no guarantee. He might be right, or the people telling me that we'll all look back and wonder why women were so mistreated is the aberration, but the future is not guaranteed. We absolutely have to be part of changing it. It's not enough to assume that it's all vaguely drifting in the right direction, because a lot of the time, it's not.
And what's brilliant, I think, about this conference is, one of the things that's absolutely brilliant is that we're actually going to look at some of the issues like, on like what I consider to be the coalface. This is not about a load of people sitting around going 'you know, well, someone pinched my bum one day and I've heard that there's a pay gap' [laughter] and I'm not... not that those aren't legitimate concerns, and not that you're not all entitled to be absolutely livid about that stuff, and not that they're not symptomatic of the wider problems, but this conference is really about some of the real, tough, coalface problems and some of the most horrific problems that are going on out there and I think it's brilliant that we're going to sort of face them face on and up close and personal and actually talk about, talk to real people who have experienced these situations, and I'm really looking forward to, later on, introducing the women from Women Asylum Seekers Together because | know them, and I'm really excited about having them here, and they're so nervous about coming and talking to you and I've had them on the phone all morning going 'will there be anybody from the Home Office there?' - because they're very worried that if they say the wrong thing it's going to prejudice their case. But as long as you all promise that you're not from the Home Office, [woman 1] tells me she's going to tell you the whole truth, so I think that that will be a really really interesting thing.
But first of all, we're going to have a talk from Nimco from Daughters of Eve, and I'm not going to give her a big blathery introduction to explain all of the stuff that she's going to talk about, instead...[to Nimco] I'm assuming I'm going to sit at the back, but if you want me to sit next to you, whatever you want, I'll sit at the back and if you need me, if they get rowdy, give me a shout [laughter], if anyone gets over-radicalised and starts setting fire to things [laughter] just...that's fine, fire exits at the back, but yeah, she's going to talk about female genital mutilation and the situation on that and the work that she's doing so, yeah, if you all give a warm welcome to, from Daughters of Eve, to Nimco Ali... [applause]