Sep 19, 2014

Comedian, Campaigner and “Leftie Cock Womble” Kate Smurthwaite

Source: Chime Original

BY Paul Casciato

London – British comedian and political activist Kate Smurthwaite can’t pin down exactly when the light went on in her head, but she has always battled injustice and argued for equality.

Smurthwaite, ardent supporter of asylum seeker rights, atheist, anti-monarchist and implacable gender equality campaigner, dreams of a post-gender, post-nationalist world. One where every child can have a good education and everybody has access to family planning if they want it.

“I remember as a kid being told: ‘Ah well life’s not fair’ and I never really took it that way… I always took it as: ‘Well then, I’m going to have to make it so that it is,’” Smurthwaite told Chime for Change.

The 38-year old Londoner, who says her age is as relevant to this article as her “boob size”, regularly appears as a panellist, spokesperson and opinion-maker on some of Britain’s top political TV shows. In between she  also tours  the comedy circuit delivering jokes laden with political insight.

“It sounds like it’s two jobs but it’s really one,” Smurthwaite says. “Speaking at a political rally and doing a stand-up comedy show, there’s a huge overlap.”

Humour, she says, has a greater impact on people’s opinions than facts do.

“Because you’re laughing, your guard is down so the information goes on board without you realising that’s what’s happening.”

But she says the way Britain’s political system operates is a joke gone too far, with a decision-making process that remains hidden behind the theatrical public façade. The House of Commons where point-scoring debates, loud jeering and insults obscure the issues and how they are really resolved.

“We should totally throw it out and run Parliament like a staff meeting, where people are given a chance to talk, where people are listened to. Their ideas would be discussed sensibly and if there are counter-arguments they are presented  where nobody is shouting over each other.”

Smurthwaite’s appearances on television have earned her a huge following, regular invitations to speak on a wide range of topics on television and weekly death and rape threats from her detractors.

But the former state school student who elbowed her way into Maths at Oxford University and spent her student days in near penury, is not easily daunted.

After leaving Oxford she took a job with a bank and moved to Tokyo to earn enough money to pay off her student debts and gain independence from the family purse strings.

Eight years later, she was back in Britain dabbling in stand-up and toying with giving up a job in an industry where she says she had always felt like a bit of a misfit.

“I took for a while to writing these things called line by lines where I would take an article from a newspaper that I really disagreed with and just go through every single line of it and making the point that this article is such a bad article that there is something objectionable in every single line.”

“People found them very funny …and then it kind of occurred to me that maybe I could take some of these articles and put them on stage.”

The result was her recurring comedy show “The News at Kate”, which she has been taking to Edinburgh Festival since 2009.

Each year, the show’s sub-title reflects that year’s content.

This year it’s “The News At Kate: Leftie Cock Womble”, a show about language and how it affects our interpretation of the news.

“Leftie Cock Womble is a (Twitter) hashtag by people who disagreed with me when I was on Question Time,” she says. “It was obviously intended as a vicious insult but I find it quite funny.”

What does it mean? That’s a mystery that even the super smart wise-cracking, wordsmith Smurthwaite has not figured out.

So what does the future hold?

Politics is a possibility if she could find a party which she can agree with, and there may be a book in the offing. But certainly the rapid fire jokes, panel appearances and the endless public haranguing on every type of media she can hijack will go on. Until the world can see just how much better off it would be if only she could just talk more of us into getting behind her agenda.

“So much good is achievable. Once you’ve got the political will,  problems can be solved in no time.”

 

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