Meet Slutty Joan, a.k.a. Harriet Kemsley

Harriet Kemsley, the world’s famous comedian is known for her unique brand of unfiltered honesty and autobiographical truths. This time she is taking on slut-shaming in this deeply personal new hilarious hour of stand-up.

Harriet is bringing her fourth hit solo show Slutty Joan to Soho Theatre in London this March and it’s already been nominated for Best New Show at the Leicester Comedy Festival as well as being a sell-out hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Meet the Joans. The first Joan is considered a lady, a model citizen, a woman who you’d take home to meet your mother – she has had 2 sexual partners in her lifetime. The second Joan has had a melee of one-night stands and multiple conquests; 20 to be exact. She is thought to be less competent and emotionally stable. Taking inspiration
from the Cornell University study where two fictional women named Joan were judged by female students, Harriet explores why ‘slutty’ Joan was judged so harshly.

If Joan wasn’t fictional, her name would be Harriet Kemsley. In this bold outing, Harriet delves into her sexual history, her first male friend being Milo Yiannopoulos (seriously), teaching men what’s right and wrong in the post #metoo era,
how she wants a bit of that sex pest confidence and more.

Harriet asks in a world where society tries to tear women down, why are we not building each other up? This riotous and reflective show delves deep into why women are punished (and often punishing themselves) for their sexual exploits, why your sexuality isn’t anyone else’s business and the circumstances that led Harriet to take a long hard look at herself…

What shall we expect to see in the “Slutty Joan”?

It’s a funny show about all the dumb things I’ve done trying to get sex with a secret
message behind it that I think it’s important.

How do you feel with the fact that “Slutty Joan” has already been nominated for Best New Show at the Leicester Comedy Festival as well as being a sell-out hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

That was so nice! And unexpected. Hopefully people will come to see me on tour
too. There’s always something new to panic about!

What areas you exploring through your new performance?

Slutty Joan is about slut shaming. It’s about how we view promiscuous women but
also delves into my own sexual history, probably too much…

How did everything start and when did you decide that theatre is your passion?

I started out doing plays with the National Youth Theatre but then discovered stand-up when I finished uni and I loved the immediacy of it. I was so nervous though I felt
constantly sick. People at work thought I had a drug problem as I’d be wandering
round in circles muttering to myself.

How easy or difficult is it to make the audience laugh or cry?

Making an audience laugh basically involves not making them laugh for a while
which is painful.

What is the most challenging thing when you are on stage?

I’m quite clumsy so not falling over and also I have a tendency of looking the wrong
way. Apparently, I did one show directly to an air-conditioning unit.

Who are your role models and inspirations?

Katherine Ryan is amazing, just so funny and let me open for her on tour which was
the best. Also Maria Bamford, she is so original and makes the worst things hilarious.

Is it difficult to execute a one-woman show?

It can be a bit lonely! Touring has been nice as I can get some friends to open for

Has comedy as a concept and more specifically stand-up comedy been redefined over the years?

I think it’s always changing. I think it’s becoming more inclusive slowly and more
voices are being heard. I just love it when comedy is honest and we all share all our
awful thoughts and feelings as it makes me feel less alone!

Do you feel women and lgbtq+ artists are unrepresented in your field?

It’s definitely changing and there’s such a demand. It’s an exciting time. But
obviously there’s still more that needs doing. It’s annoying when you’re the only
woman on a bill for weeks on end.

Has the #metoo era affected stand-up comedy?

I think it’s made us all notice and understand things better. I think it’s also given a lot
of women a ‘fuck you’ attitude which I love.

Is it difficult to be married to a famous comedian? Is there any competition between you? Do you get each other’s jokes?

It’s great! We both appear very different but we have a similar weird brain. It’s not competitive at all. If he gets work it means the rents covered for a bit and vice versa
so the other one can relax.

What are your future plans?

Keep writing and creating stuff and hopefully keep getting better. Also a puppy. And laser hair removal.

Slutty Joan will run in Soho Theatre in between 26-30 March. For more information visit

More of Harriet Kemsley here:

*all images are courtesy of Harriet Kemsley

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