Kirsty Mann: Skeletons

By Lisa Clark

I love a good Coming Out Festival show and this is a highly entertaining one. Kirsty Mann is not gay though, she is coming out as a comedian who is also Doctor and also a fragile human with foibles, insecurities and a brain the size of a planet.

Coming from a grand tradition of Medical Doctors who become comedians such as Graeme Garden, Graham Chapman, Harry Hill, Ken Jeong and our own Rob Sitch, Kirsty’s comedy is so sharp you could cut yourself with it. It’s not really a medical comedy as such, but she’s certainly got a lot of eye-opening, comical hospital anecdotes. There is going to be quite a bit of blood and hospital talk, so it’s not for the easily squeamish. Luckily she has a great bedside manner that charms and wins over the audience very quickly.

Kirsty welcomes us cheerfully into the space and opens with some light audience interaction. She calls it a “Safe Space”, and as she picks out punters to answer her questions I think “But IS it though?” and of course it is. Kirsty knows exactly what she is doing and she’s making a point. It’s all about feeling highly uncomfortable in social situations when very standard small talk questions come up like, ‘So what do you do?’ and ‘What have you been up to?’ For someone trying to hide a double life these are especially nerve-wracking.

Kirsty is a brilliant storyteller and does the voices well, by creating characters that include her sassy, gay, Irish best friend, his snooty, posh actress friend, Kirsty’s annoying arrogant crush, and her German gossipy workmate. She apologises for the Australian accent she attempts when bringing her strict boss to life, it’s not great but she makes it part of the silly fun.

In amongst the ups and downs of amusing tales from her life she hits the inevitable, looming mountain that is 2020 and the horrors of working in a London hospital during Covid. It is visceral and moving, giving depth and poignancy to the performance as well as being the catalyst for coming out. We do not linger too long in the darkness, Kirsty swiftly moves us back to the laughs and conclusion of her tale.

Kirsty is well known for clever and silly online sketch videos via social media and it’s always wonderful when an online performer proves that they are equally adept at performing to live audiences. Skeletons is the smartest storytelling comedy show I’ve seen in a while, sophisticated, tight and layered. It’s a shame her run in Melbourne is so short, see her if and when you can.

Kirsty Mann performs Skeletons until April 7 at The Malthouse