Harriet Kemsley: Slutty Joan
- Craig Angus
- 19 August 2018
This article is from 2018
Intelligent dismantling of double standards in #MeToo comedy
Harriet Kemsley isn't so much boldly taking down slut shaming, as eviscerating the concept entirely. This powerful hour of comedy is deceptive; the twist finale doesn't just change the show's tone in that very moment, it greatly strengthens the show which has been building it up.
In Slutty Joan, Kemsley, boundlessly energetic throughout, tells all about the adventures of her past. Nothing seems off limits as she covers her teenage sexual awakening and the consensual coitus of her adulthood. She's had sex for many reasons (pure logistical convenience, for example) but those were her decisions to make. Now happily married to fellow comedian Bobby Mair (or 'Mr Harriet Kemsley') she makes an important point. Why the double standards when promiscuity is concerned? Why should guys feel pride? Why should she feel shame?
The gags are relentless and the observations frequently elicit whoops of support and affirmation. When the conversation turns to #MeToo, Kemsley initially groans that the whole episode was so depressing she had to take time off Facebook. It's a crafty bit of misdirection. In the show's final flourish, Kemsley emotionally describes a deep betrayal. Slutty Joan is a difficult story for Harriet Kemsley to tell but she does so with bravery and intelligence.
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