Kathy Lette invites Dublin on a Girls’ Night Out

by Mark O'Brien
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Author Kathy Lette brings her show Girls' Night Out to the Civic Theatre in Tallaght

Dublin Gazette may have gotten Billy Connolly in trouble. The last time the Australian author, screenwriter and journalist Kathy Lette visited Dublin, she was here with her great friend, Billy, who was teaching her some local phrases.

She says: “Can you imagine being in Dublin with Billy Connolly? The fun we had! The craic was 90 – see, I’m basically speaking your language. What’s the other thing he taught me? ‘Tiocfaidh Ar La’?”

It is our unfortunate duty to inform Kathy that the last phrase does not, in fact, mean ‘Everything is okay’, and that Billy may have been trying to get her into trouble.

“He probably bloody was, you know!” she laughs down the phone. A chat with Kathy generally involves a whole lot of laughter.

Kathy first achieved success as a teenager with the novel, Puberty Blues, which was made into a major film and a TV mini-series.

After several years as a newspaper columnist and TV sitcom writer in America and Australia, she’s written 12 international bestsellers in her characteristically witty voice, including Mad Cows (which was made into a film starring Joanna Lumley and Anna Friel), How to Kill Your Husband (and Other Handy Household Hints), The Boy Who Fell to Earth, Courting Trouble, and Best Laid Plans – soon to be an eight-hour TV series.

Last year, she took to the road with her first one-woman show, Girls’ Night Out. She says: “It’s great, because when you’re a writer, you’re very isolated and when I’m on book tours I always get to meet my readers and I’ve always loved it so much.

“It’s such a compliment because they’re so witty and wild and wicked and wonderful and warm.

“So, I thought I might as well just do a little show on the road where I get to talk to them and it’s just been so great.”

The show is very much a girls’ night out, but men are always welcome to come too, even if many tend not to tag along.

“It’s all women who come,” says Kathy. “It’s 99% women. They come in gangs – grandmas, mums, daughters or sisters or best friends.

“I always say that women are each other’s human wonderbras – uplifting, supportive and making each other look bigger and better.

“We have a handful, maybe five brave males that come along [per show]. I always say to them they’re going to be ovulating by the end of the show.

“But they love the girl talk. I think they’re surprised to know how candid women are with no men around.”

Girls’ Night Out draws on Kathy’s vast and varied life experience, which ranges from tales of love, lust, men, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, mastitis, sexist bosses, teenage-daughter-wrangling, ageing, toy boys.

Kathy with her son Jules

The second half is more poignant and deals with raising a child on the autistic spectrum, Jules Robertson, through to his success playing Jason on Holby City.

“The first half is funny, it’s a bit of a laugh and a good rollick and all that, and then in the second act, it gets a bit more serious and I talk about how women care,” Kathy says.

“As in how we care for our ageing parents and our friends and our sick siblings and our kids.

“That bit is my favourite bit, because we turn the lights up a bit and then women share their stories.

“On a girls’ night out, what normally happens is we laugh and laugh and laugh and then suddenly we’ll be crying and hugging.”

Honest

Kathy attributes her success down to the fact that she is honest and has never tried to be something she’s not, which strikes a chord with other women.

“Unfortunately, there’re still a lot of women who still pretend to have perfect marriages,” she says.

“I always say a perfect marriage is like an orgasm – many of them are faked.

“I hate women in the public eye who try and pretend their lives are perfect so other women feel inadequate and jealous. I don’t do that, it’s flaws and all – pelvic flaws and all.”

A staunch feminist, Kathy says that while progress has been made in achieving equality between the sexes, there is some way to go before it is achieved. However, she thinks women can use humour to challenge sexist behaviour.

She says: “Whenever I give talks in schools to young women I always say to them, yes, men are physically stronger, but women are more verbally dexterous.

“We use on average about 500 more words in our daily vocabulary than the average male.

“I call it developing the black belt in ‘Tongue-Fu’, if you can fire off a witty one-liner and give a man a bit of quip-lash.

“Like, if a man is bullying you in a group, if you can fire off a one-liner and the other people laugh at him, you completely take away his power.”

Girls’ Night Out comes to the Civic Theatre in Tallaght on Monday, March 26. Tickets are available now from www.civictheatre.ie.

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