Five-star review: There's something about Caitlin

Caitlin Moran’s live show is an empowering experience – and she’s only getting started

Caitlin Moran

Vicar Street, Dublin


The tipping point for Caitlin Moran was There's Something About Mary. Moran made a career as a fine music journalist, TV reviewer and columnist, but her battle cry on the bulging front of a fourth wave of feminism is louder than all of those achievements. She begins her How To Build A Girl show in Dublin – part stand-up, part reading, part off-the-cuff musing, part inspirational vibes – reflecting on a film that needed viewers to buy into the fact that its star, Cameron Diaz, didn't know what semen looked like, and was stupid enough to use it as hair gel. A much more honest incident would see her accidentally paint a streak of menstrual blood in her blonde quiff, Moran thinks. Why not? Why would that never happen? For the next couple of hours, she smashes the discomfort and isolation women feel living in a patriarchal society with moments that swerve from thigh-slapping hilarity to the profoundly philosophical.


Her honesty is explicit but never crude. She's just so bloody funny, and achingly intelligent. Anecdotes about chain-smoking in a hotel room with Courtney Love, having a moon cup accident in Richard Curtis's guesthouse, and almost breaking into Kate Moss's house while en route to interview Benedict Cumberbatch, are told with such wonderful generosity that you feel like they're being told eye to eye over a gin and a fag at her kitchen table.

Aside from humour and a searing writing talent, generosity is Moran's forte. She is unapologetic about sharing her personal life no matter how revealing. She donates the profits at the merchandise stand to women's refuges. She hangs around for two hours and 20 minutes after the show to sign books. Like Jane Austen, Alison Bechdel and Helen Fielding before her, and Lena Dunham now, Moran knows that the most deft secret handshake into an honest, safe and open sorority is one that also firmly clasps popular culture.

Culture, she says, does more to change things than legislation or academic papers. Pop culture also gives women heroes, accumulating internal grit that eventually emerges as a pearl, as she puts it.

For most of the women (and some men) in this room, Moran is a modern hero that many leave wanting to channel. It’s an empowering, communal experience. But far more excitingly, given all that Moran has achieved, you could be tempted to think she’s at her peak. No way. She’s only getting started.

Una Mullally

Una Mullally

Una Mullally, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly opinion column