Comedian Kate Smurtwaite on her new show, hygge and bus travel

Kate Smurthwaite, comedian, writer and activist brings her new show “Clit Stirrer” to the Sitting Room in Ludlow on 25 November. She enlightens LGL on a few things including: #metoo inspiration, the pleasure of confronting squeamishness and bus travel.

Kate what's a girl like you doing in a town like this?

So... I wrote this show. Clit Stirrer is a show I should have written it years ago. It says something really raw and honest and (I think) important.

I'm not sure why I wrote it this year. I was definitely inspired by the #metoo movement. I felt if other people can do it, why can't I put my truth on stage too? I don't have an agent at the moment so no-one sensibly asked questions about the financial viability or TV-readiness of the show. Plus a new and very supportive boyfriend gave me a confidence boost.

Somehow the four winds conspired to push me over the edge and bingo! Clit Stirrer was born. I'm so proud of it, and so pleased I managed to address big issues and still be funny and personal and creative with it. It's a very non-traditional comedy show. Or maybe a very funny spoken word show. Hahaha.

I took it to the Edinburgh Fringe. I was reviewed twice at the Fringe and both reviews came back five stars! And then I thought I really want to tour this. And without an agent that meant organising my own tour. Which kinda suits me as I'd rather support small independent venues.

So I made a list. I was optimistic about some places: London, Glasgow, Dublin, where I know I have a fan base among local feminist groups, humanist groups and left wing political organisations.

...and then I had a "yes" back from The Sitting Room in Ludlow! And I must admit for a second I thought - who is going to come to my show in Ludlow? But I don't want to do a tour that goes to the big cities and ignores the smaller places.

And I remembered I came to Ludlow once before and did a show as part of an Edinburgh preview season. I can't even remember which show I was previewing but I remember there being a lovely friendly crowd. I hope they remember me! Also I remember talking to audience members afterwards who said "we need more political comedy here, we don't usually get shows like this, please come back".

And so I thought "ok, Ludlow, lets do it!".

“I'm so proud of it, and so pleased I managed to address big issues and still be funny and personal and creative with it. It's a very non-traditional comedy show.” Source:  Kate Smurthwaite

“I'm so proud of it, and so pleased I managed to address big issues and still be funny and personal and creative with it. It's a very non-traditional comedy show.” Source: Kate Smurthwaite

Your new show is called Clit Stirrer. Some folk get very squeamish about parts of the anatomy being mentioned, do you think that’s an old-fashioned hang-up that’s still lingering or something else?

Yes, my show (outrageously) has the word "clit" in the title. Which is an abbreviation of a correct scientific anatomical term for a part of the body that 52% of us have. It definitely shouldn't be controversial but of course it is.

I think there's definitely some residual prudishness going on. But it seems to be particularly amplified in this case. A body part that women have, that's sole purpose is pleasure?! I mean are women even allowed to experience pleasure unless it's benefitting somebody else? I did once in the late 90s, but I don't think anyone noticed!

Actually, really, as outrageous as this may sound, I think it's a human rights issue. I think humans have a right to know how their body works. When I was at school, sex education was all about don't get pregnant and don't catch an STI. No-one ever mentioned pleasure. But the human body has a huge capacity for pleasure and talking about that freely and openly could make a lot of people's lives better.

That's not what the show is about, by the way. It's just the sort of thing I say and then realise everyone around me looks terribly shocked.

Our Ludlow lifestyle is a mashup: it's glamping, forest bathing, hygge, Finke (like the Scandinavian equivalent of a high tea) at least in Autumn and Winter, food and feeling superior about our Castle. What do you think? Would you buy into our lifestyle?

Oh, I'm going to break these down. Glamping is definitely my thing. And so is forest bathing (in late November, I'll brave it if I can!).

Hygge? What is a hygge? I don't know and I was about to ask a friend but my phone is auto-correcting it to hug. What is a hug?

How sad would it be if I'd made it to 42 years old and didn't know what a hug was?! Awww. My phone should have some in-built system that alerts my friends if I've genuinely typed "What is a hug?".

Finke? Ok, you're making these up now, right? I like tea though, that could work.

And what's the point of a castle if you don't feel superior about it. If you don't want to feel superior about it - build a Gregg's...

Everyone says about Shropshire that it’s very hard to get anywhere from here! Still we just about manage. We plan months in advance, on the day of travel we have emergency supplies and gear to bivouac and that is just for the train journey between Ludlow and Shrewsbury. As a comedian who’s often on the road touring, what is your favourite mode of transport (that isn’t a time machine) and why?

I spend half my life on the road (and the other half worrying how the hell about why I'm not on the road) but I don't drive and never have. So I'm the absolute queen of public transport, cheap B&Bs, and walking.

I do a lot more walking than most people, not the romantic waltzing around the hills with a bunch of daffs sort, I just look at the timetable and think "I don't want to sit and wait in a dirty bus station cafe, it's only five miles...I'll just walk it".

Twenty minutes later I'm walking along the hard shoulder of the M6 thinking "I should have waited for the bus..." So do come say hi if you see me around Ludlow, I'm probably lost!

Kate Smurthwaite: Clit Stirrer

When: 25 November 2018

Where: The Sitting Room, Blue Boar

Buy your tickets here