Kate Berlant has surprising advice for aspiring comedians

Usually a stand-up comic, and a dab-hand at improvisation, Kate Berlant has now got her very own Soho Theatre play after a successful US run.

Look closely at the stairs up to her one woman debut – called Kate – in the iconic London venue, and you will find stickers of her unremarkable one-syllable first name, like, everywhere.

The stickers set the show up well. As does a video montage of Kate striking overly-sincere poses, channeling a hubristic artist with the self-awareness of a paintbrush.

But Kate – real Kate – isn’t much like her on-stage character of the same name. Behind performance-Kate’s hilarious vacuous ridiculousness is an astute comic pro with the confidence of a white man. Which, obviously, we love.

This was never more stark than when Metro.co.uk asked Kate for her advice to aspiring comedians.

‘There is literally no advice,’ she said. ‘Unfortunately, you’re completely on your own. There’s nothing anyone can tell you that’s going to help, I believe. It just takes time.’ 

‘It’s just a lifestyle and you have to give over to it entirely.’

And that she has. Like Liz Kingsman and Megan Stalter – two queens of comedy who are also sizzling right now – Kate parodies the one woman show genre with silky ease, and rip-roaring results.

The 36-year-old is taking down the ego of showbiz one laugh at a time with her play, which sees on-stage Kate’s one woman show dreams descend into chaos as she tries very, very hard to cry; an action Kate presents as the purest symbol of performative authenticity, and star-quality.

It’s inspired from questions and preoccupations Los Angeles-born Kate has always had with comedy, she explained.

‘It’s an inability to stop observing ones-self or the desire to be perceived as marketable.’ Indeed, if the stickers are anything to go by.

‘We’re reaching this commodification of the self,’ she continued. ‘It’s becoming increasingly exhausting and kind of…. Pathetic.’

I don’t think real Kate would get on much with on-stage Kate, because, truly, that hits the nail on the head. On-stage Kate is pathetic.

So is this why the era of Kate, Kingsman and Stalter has got us all in stitches? Yes, because on-stage Kates are everywhere.

‘I think we are in this world now with social media where everyone can be reduced to an actor, because we all have smartphones and we’re generating content daily,’ she explained.

‘It’s like people who aren’t even performers are expected to perform, and have a clean narrative self, and an identity.’

But Kate’s show – filled with zeitgeisty references and bookended with the West End trope of a cockney boy sweeping the stage – isn’t aiming to change the world.

‘It seems so simple, but I just hope people laugh,’ she said. ‘That remains the goal.’

Kate is on at Soho Theatre until September 30. Get tickets here.

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