The Audacity by TV’s Katherine Ryan
In a nutshell:
TV’s Katherine Ryan shares her story, from growing up in Sarnia, Canada, to making her way in the comedy world, to the different ways she has built her family.
N/A (Audio book)
Why I chose it:
As a middle-aged white woman living in the UK, I think I’m legally required to at least watch one of her comedy specials. But I have enjoyed both of the ones on Netflix, and enjoyed her show The Duchess, so figured I’d enjoy her autobiography. I was right!
I cannot entirely relate to TV’s Katherine Ryan. She’s only three years younger than me, and we are both white women from North America who moved to the UK, but that’s where the similarities end. She has a level of unbotheredness that I can only aspire to, and it only works because she also is an empathetic and caring person. It’s very easy to not give a shit about what other people think of one when one also doesn’t give a shit about others; it’s much more challenging to figure out how to walk that line between not wanting to cause harm to others while not changing one’s life to constantly seek the acceptance of others. Ryan seems to have mostly struck that balance.
But I do appreciate her levels of sarcasm, as well as her attempt to find some more layered and interesting takes on popular culture. She doesn’t just go for low-hanging fruit; she brings something more to her discussions. And that shows in how she tells stories about her life, including things like her time working at Hooters, and her various relationships that have not always been the healthiest. She manages to dive deeply into her feelings and motivations, sharing her vulnerability. But she also is a famous celebrity, so her experience of the world is going to be a little different.
I don’t agree with Ryan on everything. Her chapter on cancel culture (because of course – I think every celebrity is required to address that in any book or article written in the coming years) seems almost naive. She has empathy for the people who misstep or straight up act harmful, but seems to overlook the need for empathy for the people who are harmed by those missteps and errors. She strikes me as someone who thinks intention is, if not all that matter, but what matters the most, and that impact isn’t nearly as important. I simply disagree. I also think she is missing some nuance around ‘cancel culture.’ I do think there is a difference between someone who tweeted something at 21 who is now 31 and has shown actual, tangible growth since then, and someone like JK Rowling, who continues to double down, is actively harming the trans community, and shows no interest in learning or growing. Whereas I don’t think Ryan really sees any difference, because Rowling could always eventually grow. I mean, I guess? But all signs point to ‘no’ at the moment.
If you are going to get this, I do recommend the audio version. It’s read by Ryan, but include a bonus chapter (30 minutes!) of her mother! It’s fascinating to hear her mother’s perspective on the same stories we’ve just heard Ryan tell. Honestly, I’d love to see more of that in places where the writers have good relationships with their parents – we all know we experience the world differently based on perspective, and I think it’d be so interesting to hear a parent or sibling’s take on things.
Recommend to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Recommend to a friend