Katy Brand: I Was a Teenage Christian

On Sunday 28th May I went to the Catrin Finch Centre at Glyndwr University to watch comedienne Katy Brand perform her latest stage show, entitled I Was a Teenage Christian.

It was an enjoyable evening with an intimate audience of about 30 people.  It wasn’t the funniest show I have ever seen, but I thought it was both enjoyable and entertaining.

Please excuse me for using this review below by Steve Bennett that I found on but I found myself agreeing with almost every word – even though Bennett’s review is from August 2016 – and due to my dexterity issues this is the quickest option, believe me…

Review by Steve Bennett

The title is straightforward, and so is the story.

It’s been 11 years since Katy Brand was last at the Fringe, that time with an over-the-top character show, which led to her ITV2 series. Now she’s returned as an autobiographical storytelling stand-up, with the extended yarn about how, at 13, she discovered God while on a camping trip to Cornwall and became an enthusiastic member of a church. ‘You have to believe to see,’ she was told… although that was actually about the magic eye pictures that were all the rage at the time.

She did have a genuine moment of feeling touched by the Holy Spirit, as believers would have it, that literally knocked her off her feet. Whatever the cause, she signed up for a trendy evangelical youth church – its crucifix made of acoustic guitars – and leapt into its work with gusto. Like a lot of teenagers she needed something to belong to, and the church made her feel special, especially as she rose to its inner conclave, being in the band.

There’s no grand story arc or twists and turns to what happens next. She digs out an old youth Bible, hilarious in the ‘real-life’ examples it appended to the texts to make them relevant, and tells of abstinence lessons, of how she would try to convert her friends, and of how she became consumed by the cliquey hierarchical struggles.

Eventually, of course, the spell wore off and the scales fell from her eyes – mainly when the church started campaigning to ban Harry Potter – and she realised that the hip reverend she was once in thrall to, and his followers, were all just dim. She just grew up a bit; there’s no grand denouement here.

That’s typical of a story, that is low on twists and turns, vivid characters, or even a thorough examination of her feelings at the time. She posits that she needed a community because 13 is an age when you become aware of your own mortality and need to feel part of something bigger , but it seems like a retrospective intellectual response. This idea feeds into a story that bookends the show about how she became Sky News’s go-to girl whenever they wanted an instant tribute following the death of a famous entertainer, which is low on laughs, but she spins it out well. Her teenage story about needing to belong and feel important, however nutty the doctrine, also has parallels with IS brides, but that goes unsaid.

Perhaps surprisingly for someone known for brash character work, Brand seems unconfident on stage, especially to begin with; any mildly funny statement greeted with a nervous half-laugh as she exhales. Although that delivery certainly makes her embarrassment feel all the more acute as cringe-inducing memories such as preaching to shoppers in Watford’s Harlequin Centre are brought up.

There’s certainly a lot of warmth to that unaffected style, and Brand always endears, even if the tale needs to be knocked into a more gripping shape if she’s to compete with the very best storytellers at this festival.

Review date: 14 Aug 2016


Clash by Damien Jeffery

On September the 19th, I was rolling around Birmingham City Centre searching for the fibreglass owls that make up The Big Hoot trail. One I found was number 12: Clash by Damien Jeffery.

Visit my Virgin Money Giving page and please give generously in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital.


Damien Jeffery is a Bristol based painter, born in Bromsgrove, who studied art at Southampton institute. He is currently working on seascapes inspired by winters surfing on the North coast of Cornwall and Devon.  ‘Damo’ designs and paints murals for schools, businesses and homes and he has twice painted at ‘Upfest’, Europe’s largest urban arts festival; he has designed Gorillas, Rhinos, Buses and Olympic Mascots for Wild in Art events across the country.


Visit my Virgin Money Giving page and please give generously in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital.