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Katherine Ryan: Difficult choice to work with dangerous comic

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By Doug Faulkner

BBC News

Comedian Katherine Ryan said she “wrestled” with whether to appear on television with a fellow comic she considered “dangerous”.

The Canadian stand-up told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs she believed the man – who she did not name – was a “perpetrator of sexual assault”.

Ryan said she decided to take part in the show but “let him know under no uncertain terms what I think of him”.

“Everyone” in the industry knows who the person is, she added.

She was being questioned about comments she had made in an interview with Louis Theroux last year, when she spoke of calling a man a “predator” during filming for a TV show.

Ryan said she had “got a lot of pushback”, with people asking why she would not say who she was referring to.

Ryan’s Desert Island Discs was recorded on 6 September, before a number of allegations of sexual misconduct were reported about comedian Russell Brand.

When she first broached the subject of a dangerous comic on Theroux’s programme, there were reports that she was referring to Brand and her time appearing alongside him on Comedy Central’s Roast Battle in 2018, but this has not been confirmed by her. Nor has she made any public comment about him since the allegations emerged.


Brand has denied the claims against him and said his relationships have “always” been consensual.

‘Really difficult’

In her Desert Island Discs appearance, Ryan talks about her decision to work on the show with the unnamed man, telling Radio 4’s Lauren Laverne: “I had a choice, I could go to work with someone whom I believe to be a perpetrator of sexual assault or I could turn down the job – those are my options.”

She said she found it “really difficult”, “because I believe this person was or is dangerous but also what am I going to change if I stay home?”

“My compromise was, all right I am going to go but I am going to let him know under no uncertain terms what I think of him. I’m not going to just smile and look like I am allowing his behaviour, I’m not going to let him think that I don’t know and that everybody he works with is just going to let him get away with it,” Ryan, 40, said.

“So that is the attitude I took into the show, and did I do the right thing or the wrong thing, I still don’t know but I just felt like ‘why should I stay home, he should stay home – if he’s going to be there, I’m going to be there, and I’m going to tell him what I think’.”

Ryan said the man did not give an “obvious reaction” to her words but others had “really liked what I said”.

She said she thought some people may have questioned whether she meant it or was joking because of the way she spoke about it – “but the people who know, know I wasn’t joking”.

During the episode of Desert Island Discs Ryan discussed her life growing up in a small town in Canada, her family and performing comedy while going through a miscarriage.

She picked songs including the Spice Girls’ Spice Up Your Life and Eminem’s The Real Slim Shady.

You can listen to Katherine Ryan’s Desert Island Discs here.