“The way I provide value to society is through comedy, not children.”

Kat, Berlin

OMG, Kat is hilarious. And when she appears on stage as Katnip, her standup talks about things the rest of us never have the courage to. To Kat, that brings way more value to society than producing another human being.

I didn’t really think about whether I’d have children when I was younger. You don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, so you presume it might happen, it might not. I didn’t really give it much thought, because I always had other things I was focusing on, other priorities that came first.

Then in my early 20s, I had a kind of broody period, when I thought I should be a teacher and work in a kindergarten. My mom was a teacher, and I loved it. It’s so heartwarming to see the journey, the process, and how much you are instilling in these kids. Down the line, I realised that maybe I would have been good at it too, but by then it was too late – I was already halfway through uni, studying marketing.

That’s when I realised it was just a bit of a crisis. I love kids, I always did, but in small dosages. I babysit a lot of kids, and I’ve always had good relationships with my friends’ kids, we really get along. I myself am a kid at heart, so I love playing with them, and I love how excitable they are, how innocent – they’re not skewed by societal stereotypes and prejudices. I think I just realised how much work children are.

I left Poland after high school, and most of the people I went to school with, they were married with multiple kids by the age of 30. Once a year, I go back to visit my friends, have children for a week, and then I’m cured. Even if I had any remote thoughts that ever appeared in my head, I’m like, “this is definitely not for me”. It’s a gentle reminder, sometimes not so gentle when they scream a lot.

I don’t really feel it because I’m not there, but there’s pressure when all the friends around you are getting married and having kids, and your parents are pressuring you…

My parents never pressured me, so it’s not an issue for me. My mother always told me I was a gift, the biggest joy in their life. And I’m like, “OK, well you couldn’t have had many other joys because you had kids. You didn’t travel – you travelled to Slovakia, because that’s as far as you could go. So, what do you compare your joys to?”

Being a mother was a great time for her, but she also understood my point of view. Over time, you start thinking less of what is expected of you or what people told you is the only way to fulfil yourself, versus what is actually fun. What is fun? What is cool? What do you want to do? What brings you happiness?

About three years ago, when I’d just moved to Berlin, I met this girl who was doing improv and comedy. And I was like, “Oh, that sounds cool. I would love to try it.” Standup was meant to be a one-off, a bucket list thing like doing a triathlon. I’ve tried many things like this, from tap dancing to karate to being in a band.

So I went to the show ran by my current boyfriend – this is the first time we met – and told him I’d been doing comedy for a while. He asked me, “Do you have five minutes?” I was like, “Oh I can do seven, I can more…” So I drank like six shots of whisky and two beers and went on stage. I still have the video of my first set, and I look confident – I actually thought I did really well. But yeah, it was bad. It’s maybe two laughs within five minutes, both of them coming from my friend at the front door. That was about 350 shows ago.

Of course, comedy is thrilling and exciting and I love it, but in a sense – and I don’t want to sound pompous – but it actually provides value to society. Especially in tough, tough times like now, you can really brighten up someone’s day, you can bring them joy, and you can talk about issues they never have the guts to talk about. The other day, a girl came up to me and said, “Oh my god, you talk about the things that girls want to talk about, but we never have the courage to”. In my eyes, that brings way more value to society than producing another human being.

If you’re just after replicating your own genes and leaving a legacy on earth, I think that’s selfish. But because having children is presented as an obligation, you seem selfish if you don’t want to do that. And right now some countries, like Poland for example, are paying people to have children, to boost their economies. But I’m not property of a government, a machine to produce babies for them.

I’m not anti-children per se. I think we should have less children in general because the earth is overpopulated, but if some people really want kids and they are going to love them, why not? That’s why I’ve donated my eggs twice, because I thought it would be exciting to help someone who actually wants to have a child. Back in London, in my mid-20s, one of my friends was trying for a child using the egg banks, and I thought, well, such beautiful genetic material shouldn’t go to waste.

In England, you’re anonymous at the time of donating your eggs, but once the child reaches 18, they have a right to find out who you are. So I’ve written letters that they may read when they are 16, saying, you know, I hope things are doing fine, that it’s fine if they don’t want to meet me, but if they do, I would love to. A lot of times, when they’re 18, people come to meet you, they want to thank you. I think it’ll be very cool. For me, it’s perfect – I just donated my genetic material, and then someone else has to hang out with them for 18 years.

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Photos by Zoë Noble
Words edited by James Glazebrook