From Hooters to striking comedy gold: Katherine Ryan reveals all

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Katherine Ryan returns as the co-judge of Comedy Central’s Roast Battle (PA Images)
Katherine Ryan returns as the co-judge of Comedy Central’s Roast Battle (PA Images)

Katherine Ryan is everywhere. From her long-withstanding appearances on various top panel shows (A League of Their Own, Mock the Week, 8 out of 10 Cats), the Canadian UK based comedian is currently starring in her own West End show Glitter Room.

She is also the only UK and Canadian female comedian to have a Netflix special (and another in the works) and has now returned as the co-judge of Comedy Central’s Roast Battle – a series which pits contestants to roast one another as they’re judged by celebrity hosts – alongside Jimmy Carr and new host Jonathan Ross. Who she says brings a new edge to the series.

“We have Jonathan Ross. We all grew up watching him, he’s now Mr. Late Night, but we forget he’s actually a very good roaster! He is edgy and really funny!” Ryan said.

Can we expect Ross to go after her on the series? No she says, but this certainly did stop her from giving him a thorough roast.

Katherine Ryan with Jimmy Carr and Jonathan Ross on Roast Battle. (Comedy Central)
Katherine Ryan with Jimmy Carr and Jonathan Ross on Roast Battle. (Comedy Central)

“No! He went for Jimmy a couple of times but he was really kind to me! Which was a schoolboy error because I went really hard on him! He definitely understands that a roast is an honour,” she explained.

But Ryan has a rather unusual beginnings to thank for her rise to British comedy stardom – the American chain restaurant Hooters. Ryan says she first discovered her knack for comedic timing and delivering zingers when she hosted one of their bikini contests during her several-year stint as a Hooters waitress and supervisor.

“What really got me was hosting a bikini pageant at Hooters. Instead of a bikini I got to host with a microphone and wear a dress. I loved it so much, I didn’t realise it but I was actually doing stand-up.

“All of a sudden for the first time in my life it was cool to be funny. It made everyone more comfortable when I was funny,” she said.

And of course with Hooters there was a level of expectation to look a certain way, and Ryan openly says she has experimented with cosmetic procedures, including botox and fillers. However, she stresses the importance of doing it for the right reasons and going to properly accredited clinics.

“I think that the best thing to do is do it for you. When I get botox and fillers I am really transparent about what I do. People are going to do whatever they want with their bodies.

“Some people will pierce holes, some people will have implants – it’s no one else’s business what you do to your body. But I do worry about a generation of younger people going to dodgy places and not having the correct information,” she said.

After being sent to the UK to help open the nation’s first ever ever Hooters in Nottingham, she started to break into the UK comedy circuit. And as we all know she’s found huge success with her bold and fearless comedic style.

Ryan says she’s not afraid to push the boundaries in comedy and retaliates against the stereotype that British comedy is becoming too politically correct.

“I haven’t really heard any comedians that I admire say that comedy has become more PC. I think that most people that say it has don’t really understand what we do.

Katherine Ryan at the 2018 GQ Awards (PA Images).
Katherine Ryan at the 2018 GQ Awards (PA Images).

“We say controversial and productive things but they can still be PC. So it’s not just about flinging horrible insults, it’s very different because there is consent from everyone, there is context,” she explained.

With Ryan being such a seemingly open book, we ended the interview by asking what her fans would likely be most surprised about her. She’s quiet she says – and often not at all like her on-camera persona.

“I think people are surprised to learn that in real life I am pretty quiet. I’m kind of an introvert. I’m not mean, I don’t go roasting people at the local grocery store or at the chemist! Roast battles has a time and a place and outside of Roast Battle I’m actually pretty nice!”

Roast Battle starts October 1st on Comedy Central at 10pm.

Read more
Katherine Ryan: I think all single mothers should do stand-up comedy
Katherine Ryan on why she aspires to be a ‘strong black woman’
Jonathan Ross replaces Russell Brand on Roast Battle


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