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I TALK TO Suzi Ruffell

Suzi Ruffell is back at the Fringe this year with her brand new show, Keeping It Classy.

Having really found her feet last year in Edinburgh with her third hour Common, Suzi Ruffell is returning to the Fringe with a certain excitement, positivity and confidence that shines through as I chat to her about Keeping It Classy.

You made your debut at the Fringe back in 2012, what keeps you coming back?

This is my fourth show, so I’ve done four over five years now, and I still have stuff to say I guess. In my first couple of years at the Fringe I was working out my comedic voice and working out what I was good at talking about and how to be at my funniest.

Then last year, my show Common, dealt with my background, my working-class roots, who I am in the world now as a woman in her early thirties and all of a sudden I felt like I’d stumbled across what I was really good at talking about and what really seemed to make people laugh.

After the success of last year’s show it was almost a no brainer to come back and delve deeper into that subject and find out what else I have that I can make people laugh about that’s still talking about class.

What is this year’s show all about then?

It’s called Keeping It Classy and it’s about a number of things to be honest. Part of it is about the fact that I’m from a very working-class family in Portsmouth, I had a very working-class childhood and went to a very rough school. And now all of a sudden, because of comedy, I’ve been transported into this very middle-class liberal elite world in the centre of London. A lot of my friends are privately educated, a couple of them have been to Eaton - it’s a very different world that I now find myself in.

So the show deals with the difficulties that arise when you’re from two different places. That’s how I feel. I’m now in a position where I don’t feel that I fit in in either of those places. Amongst my family I’m seen as a bit posh, moved to London, thinks a lot about herself - in a kind way! And a lot of my London friends, not that they make me feel bad about it, feel like I had a very different upbringing to them.

The show deals with a friendship between me and my friend Poppy who was privately educated and grew up in a very very privileged world. She's now got a child and our lives have changed dramatically and I’ve realised how different our worlds our so the show is about me addressing that and finding out whether you can transcend class barriers, whether it still matters and whether working-class, middle-class and upper-class is still a thing.

Another part of the show is that I had a really big break-up about three months ago. I was settled down and thought I had everything sorted and then it all went wrong. I would say that the show got 40% funnier when my heart got broken and I think the comedian in me is delighted.

When did you start working on the show?

I had ideas before Christmas but only tiny little bits that I’d drop into my sets and I’ve been touring my last show Common until a few weeks ago so it’s been really interesting to perform another show most nights and writing during the day on the new show.

It’s been a real challenge but something that I’ve really enjoyed. I’d say I’ve been writing it properly since February/March and it’s in the last couple of weeks that it’s really found its form and the rest of the previews will really help to shape it all and tidy it all up.

How have the previews been going?

I’m thoroughly enjoying performing the show. It’s a very performative show this year with a lot of physical act outs and lots of really creative stuff that I’ve not really had the confidence to do before. Currently it really feels like it’s paying off.

I’ve never been so excited to go to the Fringe which is a lovely feeling. I think having had a really nice run last year, I’m excited about what it’s going to bring because last year was just super fun. Packed out rooms, lovely audiences and this year I’m in the Pleasance Courtyard and on at 9:45pm which is a great time for comedy.

I’m thrilled to be going and to be honest with you, a few years ago I never would have thought I’d ever say that because the nerves would outweigh the excitement. But I think all of a sudden, having been  a professional stand-up for that little bit longer, worked out what I’m good at talking about, enjoying the previews, all of a sudden I’m in a space where I can do Edinburgh. I’m really excited to do Edinburgh which is a great place to be

Why do you think Edinburgh is still such an important month for comedians?

Just because it’s where everyone is. It’s what everyone does and it forces you to write. I’m a big fan of a lot of American stand-ups but they don’t ever really write an hour. I mean they do if they’re doing specials and stuff.

You’re forced to write a brand new hour of stuff with not one bit of crossover between last year’s show and this year’s show and on the tour it got longer, I was doing about an hour and ten.

Also, you get seen by people, you get reviews - I don’t read that stuff when I’m up there. I take a look at it maybe a month down the line. I can’t speak for all comics but for me it’s a challenge and with the experience I’ve now got, I wouldn’t take a show up now if I didn’t have something to say.

You always improve at the Fringe. You learn as a comic because you’re working every single day constantly making your material better and your routine stronger.

What are you most looking forward to about the Fringe this year?

A pint on the first weekend when I go “It’s going to be alright. I’m going to have a nice month. I’ve put in the work. I’ve put in the hours. I’ve driven all over the country prepping the show.” So I’m looking forward to that drink when I go “Yep. I’m excited now."

Anyone in particular you’re looking forward to seeing whilst you’re up there?

Ivo Graham. Sara Pascoe. John Robins. James Acaster, I’ll go and see his trilogy even though I’ve seen all his shows before. He’s wonderful. John Kearns is back up there this year and he’s a really good mate of mine. Jenny Bede who’s my housemate and a really good friend of mine. I saw her do a preview and it was already in great shape. Rachel Parris, I love her as well. She’s always fantastic. So many people!

Finally, how would you sum up your show in just five words?

Funny. Thought provoking. Angry. Classy.

Suzi Ruffell: Keeping It Classy runs from Saturday 5th August to Sunday 27th August at 9:45pm at the Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance Below). Previews 2nd-4th August. No show Monday 14th August.


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