She may be in the business of making us laugh, but some of the experiences acerbic Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan details in her new memoir, The Audacity, could make us shed a tear or two as well.
Toxic relationships, cheating boyfriends, botched cosmetic surgery and, most traumatically, the murder of her friend at the hands of an abusive partner, are just some of the experiences the comedian has charted.
“The murder affected everyone in a small town (in Canada) because it was something so close to us and so shocking. It had a hand in informing a lot of my ideas about men. I remember my mother saying, ‘Yes, sometimes if you leave them they will kill you’.
“I know realistically that’s not most of the times but it certainly left an impact and made me afraid. It was definitely a voice in the back of my mind for all of my relationships.”
Ryan, 38, star of the Netflix show The Duchess and a regular on panel shows including 8 Out Of 10 Cats, has lived in the UK for 14 years and is now married to her childhood sweetheart, retired athlete Bobby Kootstra, with two children, Violet, 12 (from another relationship) and three-month-old Fred.
But although she is now in a happy relationship and also describes her daughter’s father as a lovely man, she confesses she has not always chosen well.
Describing one of her unhappy past relationships, she writes: “Coercive control doesn’t happen overnight. It can creep up on you through a series of tiny humiliations or degrading acts.” He criticised her, she says, for not wearing matching sets of underwear, for not going for pedicures, even the way she chopped veg.
“What you seek you shall find,” she says now. “It’s unfortunate that I gravitated towards some toxic situations. I’m not a therapist but my guess is that I thought men could be dangerous so I would just lead myself towards the dangerous ones. I don’t know why. I’ve stopped doing that, thankfully.”
She went for therapy, to learn how to fix the relationship by being better herself, but actually learned she needed to leave.
She has now found happiness with Kootstra who she dated 20 years previously.
“Things could have been a lot easier if I’d just stayed with him from the beginning,” she says wryly.
“There’s no battle with him. I’m not trying to please him or fix anything or prove anything. He just has the most lovely, calm energy, is kind and really respects me, women and my work. We are just equals. I’d never known what it felt to be equals. I had been a lone wolf because I didn’t trust anybody else to make the right decision. I’m so glad that he’s in my life.”
They rekindled their romance in January 2019 when she was back in her mum’s hometown filming Who Do You Think You Are? and they got in contact. They were married that year.”
Her comedy remains confident, brave and bold, covering everything from celebrity culture to politics and the zeitgeist of the country, “wokeness”, the prospect of having a teenager in her home and the shift her life has taken.
“It wasn’t until I was truly comfortable with my company that I met someone who was perfect for me. I have definitely mellowed. There’s nothing that gives me anxiety or makes me stressed. It’s because I have perspective and I know how lucky I am.”
The Audacity – Katherine Ryan, Blink Publishing
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