One of our fave comedians opens up about anxiety, authenticity and whether gags get girls

BY ROXY BOURDILLON

You may well have snorted your tea out of your nose watching Suzi Ruffell on Mock The Week. Maybe you’re a fan of the brilliant podcast she co-hosts with fellow comedian and bestie Tom Allen, Like Minded Friends. Or perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to catch her at a gig. If not, don’t despair. Here’s a clip of the gay gagmeister in action. Check it out, have a good old giggle, then read our exclusive interview with one of the hottest names in comedy.

DIVA: I saw you on Live At The Apollo. You were amazing!

SUZI RUFFELL: Thanks! It was a very scary and brilliant day.

How did you feel when you stepped out onto that famous stage?

I had been a bit nervy all day. Then when the Apollo sign lifted and the stage filled with smoke, I was very calm all of a sudden. I had one of the best gigs I’ve ever had. Then I got very drunk and had a Dominos pizza so, you know, overall a great night.

Sounds like a perfect evening! I  can’t wait to see your latest show, Nocturnal. What’s this one about?

Nocturnal’s about my worries, my anxieties. I call them my 3am press conferences, because they wake me up in the middle of the night. With my stand-up, I always like there to be some heart, some honesty. I think of myself as a bit of confessional comic.

Do you think being so open about your sexuality has affected your career, in either good or bad ways?

I don’t think it’s ever held me back and I don’t think it’s ever pushed me forward. If I wasn’t out, then I wouldn’t be a very good comic. What makes any comic interesting is being authentic to themselves onstage.

Looking back over your career so far, how much do you think attitudes towards queer female comics have evolved?

It’s constantly changing. For a long time when I first started, when I would say I’m gay onstage I would get cheers from men. I’d think, “I don’t know why you’re happy. I’m never going to sleep with you!” I’ve experienced that over-sexualisation of gay women less and less over the last few years, but that’s also because I know how to deal with it better. If I ever receive homophobic heckling, I’ll win because I stand on stage every night of the week doing stand-up.

How do you handle online trolling?

I have, in the past, engaged with trolls and it’s completely pointless. I do just have to ignore it. I’ve always been very open onstage. If that means that occasionally some wanker is going to get in touch with me online to tell me that he doesn’t like it, I don’t give a shit. I’m sorry you feel that way. It seems like you’re probably very sad in your life.

Well said! How hard is it holding down a relationship when you’re so busy with your booming comedy career?

The only thing that is difficult is I’m away so much. But luckily my partner is hugely understanding. I was a comic when we met. We were set up by a friend about 18 months ago and she’s always got it. She came to my Apollo recording and she was so proud of me. She knew how much it meant.

So she knew you were a comedian when you met – do you think being funny helps you get girls?

If you went on a date with me and had seen my stand-up before, then I would be a bit of a disappointment, because the stand-up me is the funniest version of me that I’m ever going to be. On a date, you’d probably find that I’m slightly awkward. I get a bit embarrassed. I’m much better when I have a microphone.

Have you always been a joker?

I’ve always tried to be funny. It’s how I have protected myself. When I was at school I didn’t have a lot of friends. I knew I was gay. I felt like I didn’t fit in, like I was carrying this backpack of shame. I was really worried people were going to find out this the truth about me and comedy was the deflector. If I wasn’t gay, I probably wouldn’t be a comic. It became how I existed in the world and how I put people of the scent of my gayness. Being the funny one was far easier than being the gay one.

Now you get to be the funny one and the gay one!

And I really like that! I like that I’m out! I get a lot of messages, more than I’d ever thought, from people talking about coming out or saying they love the podcast, Like Minded Friends. I love the fact that I get to be that person for some people. I feel very lucky that I get to tell my story in a very out and public way.

See Suzi perform Nocturnal at The Soho Theatre on Tuesday 23 – Thursday 25 April. Get your tickets here. Not based in London? Check out her other UK tour dates here.

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