STARTING with the her trademark opening line "I’m a feminist, but..." podcaster Deborah Frances-White welcomed a host of guests to the stage at York Barbican last night.

An avalanche of laughter came from the audience as each guest stood in the spotlight to give their "but..." story.

Deborah Frances-White, the original "guilty feminist" is an Australian-born, London-based comedian. She is best known for hosting The Guilty Feminist podcast which began touring the UK in 2021. This year, the show is set to make its way across the UK, and then fly across the world to host seven shows in New Zealand and Australia.

The podcast, started in 2015, has been downloaded over 70 million times. On launching her book in 2020, Deborah quickly had a bestseller on her hands.

As famous as it is, Thursday night's York show didn’t sell out. The audience, who were hugely welcoming, engaging and enthusiastic throughout, was made up of mostly white women over the age of 30 – but in watching the show, I think this is what was to be expected.

A small percentage of the audience were men. Again, I wasn’t surprised - it would have to be a brave man to go to one of the shows! Deborah playfully asked for straight cis-gendered man to volunteer as a "human Google" for a game in which she would ask a question and he would reply in an authoritative tone, whether he knew the answer or not. After all, she said, we all take Google at its word.

Singer/songwriter Grace Petrie entertained us with her thoughtful and punchy political songs about growing up gay and her alternative version of the National Anthem. When I caught up with her in the interval, I asked her what she made of the audience and she said: "They’re nice… I think we’ve got every feminist in York in the room!"

I'd never heard the podcast before going to the show, and was pleasantly surprised to be almost crying with laughter from the start.

Deborah, who acted as host, and interviewer, invited audience members to speak openly about a time when they had been a "good feminist". One woman was invited on to stage to share her knowledge of how to wee in the wild - the facts of which she'd turned into a publicity poster for women.

First up on the 'guest list' was comedian Jessica (Jess) Fostekew, whose comedy made light of serious subjects, both political and personal. Jess covered numerous topics from lockdown to break-ups and dating again. Some of her best jokes are too rude to repeat here!

A tough act to follow, but newcomer and recent award winner Celya AB definitely did her best. The audience giggled throughout her set – and no wonder! Her jokes about faked pregnancies, and her impersonation of British people really cracked people up!

The second half opened with a widely inappropriately but absolutely hilarious set from Kiri Pritchard-McLean, a farmer's daughter who had the audience doubled over when telling us how to hide our "Prosecco pouch" (aka lockdown belly, but also named by Kiri as a 'gunt'), before presenting to the audience a custom-made bum-bag embroidered with the word.

As with the podcast's format, Deborah bought on stage a guest to talk about something a little more serious. It changed the tone from the first half, and at one point I thought they may have lost the audience. Melanie Robertson talked to Deborah and Kiri about the importance of birth and post-natal choices and care – although interesting, it was a bit of a sharp swing from the rest of the show.

They brought it back at the end, though, with Grace Petrie once again. The audience was up dancing, and a few people they picked on during the show were invited to the stage to join in a version of disco classic I Will Survive.

Overall, The Guilty Feminist was hilarious. The show was all-around inclusive, and very representational of the queer community.

After going into the audience not having listened to the podcast, or read the book, I am now going to tune in - and thoroughly recommend The Guilty Feminist to everyone (including brave men).