Review: Catastrophist

3 years ago
Aidan Johnson

Cabaret about the misadventures of the chronically anxious woman there are aplenty – or at least there are plenty of cabaret comedies, and comedies about chronically anxious women. Fortunately, this combination is done very well by the talented Katie Cullinan, who brings good music, singing, and writing out in a fun night of comedy cabaret.

Look, anyone who can draw a crowd on a Tuesday night is definitely worth checking out.

Catastrophist is a show that many people will be able to relate well to – the jokes are self-depreciating, and as such inoffensive to the audience to watch. This doesn’t mean that Callinan’s style is completely egocentric. On the contrary, she regularly encourages audience participation without it being overbearing and although her stories sound niche and unusual, they have a way of being able to speak to everyone in the room. From toilet humour to dating disasters, the show was held together by the thread of anxiousness and awkwardness – something we have all experienced in our lives at some stage.

Plus the writing is clever – puns, playing with unusual word combinations, and that awkward, light-hearted humour works well for her show.

The choice of songs was well done. With mixtures of reworded, and original, and cover songs, the music keeps the show going and provides interest for the audience. It can also take the audience on emotional journeys – although there were no profoundly depressing elements to the show, there were some songs that made the previous, self-depreciating humour take an almost melancholy turn at times. It was well done.

One interesting thing about Cullinan’s comedic approach is that it almost feels like a stream of consciousness. She never really stops talking or singing, and she always appears slightly nervous. This is obviously one of the best things to present as for a comedy act, because it can hide any real nerves you may feel, and when you make mistakes you can always cover them with the nervous chatterbox act. It also lightens the situation immensely – such as covering for when a mistake has been made or when she was adapting to the changing lighting or sound prompts.

The atmosphere in the Butterfly Club was well suited to her style, and the audience reflected the atmosphere. People were getting involved without becoming rowdy, and when people were too loud Cullinan was able to shut them down in an amusing but polite manner. Fortunately there was no real need for audience participation, although the option remained for there to be, which was a nice touch. Cullinan’s Catastrophist is fun and light-hearted, and should definitely be on your list of light laughs.


Catastrophist is on at the Butterfly Club at 8:30pm until Sunday 25 March 2018. Tickets are available at the door or online via the Butterfly Club website.

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