On my radar: Katherine Ryan’s cultural highlights

<span>Katherine Ryan: ‘In Canada, we have rich people and poor people, but we don’t have vast, clashing class systems.’</span><span>Photograph: Dean Chalkley/The Observer</span>
Katherine Ryan: ‘In Canada, we have rich people and poor people, but we don’t have vast, clashing class systems.’Photograph: Dean Chalkley/The Observer

Born in Ontario, Canada in 1983, comedian Katherine Ryan won the Funny Women award in 2008. Since then she has appeared on numerous TV sitcoms and panel shows including Taskmaster and 8 Out of 10 Cats. She has two Netflix standup specials, In Trouble and Glitter Room, and in 2020 created Netflix comedy series The Duchess. She has won the outstanding female comedy entertainment performance award at the National Comedy Awards twice, in 2022 and 2023. She lives in London with her husband and three children. Her new tour, Battleaxe, is coming to venues across the UK from 5 September.

1. Art

Jon MacGregor

I discovered Jon MacGregor on the Instagram page Ladies of Madison Avenue. He’s from Georgia but goes to school in New York now – he must have been born in the 2000s. He paints using really classic styles: his paintings are beautiful, you would want to put them in any stately home, but there’s this modern twist. He loves fun, modern imagery; some of it is a little bit dark. It’s a lovely blend. It’s just so special to find someone that young who’s so talented. He actually reminds me a little bit of Joe Lycett.

2. News

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs mansion raid

It’s just such an interesting story in real time, to wake up every day and uncover more details about lawsuits and allegations and what was really going on in the hip-hop industry that I loved so much when I was growing up. It’s a reminder that nothing is what it seems. It’s this dismantling of really toxic patriarchal structures: in cinema, we saw first, but now in hip-hop music. And they’re so intertwined. It’s such an encouraging development that one by one, these structures of abuse are finally being challenged, and people are speaking out about them.

3. Album

Beyoncé: Cowboy Carter

I love this album. It hits all the right things: it’s controversial, it’s making a lot of people angry, but critics are reviewing it really well. I think it’s brave to take on a polar genre from what you’re used to doing and reinvent yourself like that. And she executed it beautifully – she’s impressed even Dolly Parton. The first single, Texas Hold ’Em, still feels like Beyoncé: it doesn’t betray her authentic voice but it’s totally something new. I don’t get tired of hearing it on the radio even though it’s on all the time.

4. Film

Saltburn (dir Emerald Fennell, 2023)

I’ll always remember this movie because it was recommended to me by my teenage daughter. It was harrowing to realise: “Oh, my daughter can watch stuff like this and understand it.” But while her friends and her were sensationalised by all the gratuitous sexual content, what I loved was the portrayal of the posh family. Rosamund Pike’s character never directly addresses her children, and they never open up about anything real. I have observed that about posh people. In Canada, we have rich people and poor people, but we don’t have a culture of vast, clashing class systems.

5. Social media

Britney Spears’s Instagram

It was uplifting that Britney was freed from her conservatorship and was allowed to buy chewing gum again without permission. But then we see this, and what’s going on there? It’s almost a dramatic piece of theatre. She dances on Instagram every day, and millions of people are watching, but they can’t comment. And she’s very clearly unwell. There’s a poetic sadness behind it: it’s beautiful, in a way, because she’s smiling and dancing, and we’re happy she’s got her life back. But it brings out the rescue syndrome in me: I want to go and be Britney’s friend and save the day.

6. Food

Nando’s loaded fries

Nando’s has special loaded fries that you can’t get delivered – the presentation’s probably compromised on the back of a scooter. I love loaded fries: I’m a busy lady, and I like everything all in one bowl. I love spice. I love chicken. I feel like it’s really Canadian, because our signature dish is poutine – wetted chips remind me of home. My husband and I feel like it’s a mark of honour to have the extra-hot level of spice. My daughter likes medium, but she’s British, she was born here, so she can be forgiven.