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I TALK TO Suzi Ruffell

"It feels like I'm finally finding that audience that really like what I do."

She's an Edinburgh Festival Fringe favourite amongst critics, audiences and fellow comedians and this year Suzi Ruffell is hoping her sixth hour, Dance Like Everyone's Watching doesn't disappoint.

With even more TV appearances under her belt and more to come, Suzi has finally moved into a bigger room in the Pleasance Courtyard so I caught up with her to discuss that, her show and why she's enjoying what she's doing more than ever.

I feel like I say this every year, but the last 12 months have been very good to you haven't they?

Yeah, it's been a really fun. The last 12 months have been pretty exciting and it all started with my doing Live from the BBC and then things really started to take off!

I did Live at the Apollo which has been on my dream list for a very long time, just to be on that list of incredible people who have done it. It's a show I can ring my mum, tell her I'm doing it and she'll actually understand what that is because we've all sat down as a family and watched it in the past, well before I even thought about doing stand-up.

What all that stuff has helped me to do is tour which has just been the best thing. That's what has been amazing, to get to the point where I have an audience of people excited to come and see me.

This is your sixth hour in six years, as you get busier and busier with other work, can you ever see a year where you don't do Edinburgh?

Yeah. I'm not sure for definite yet, but I might take next year off. It's not just about not having time in the diary but I felt like I had something else to say this year and I wouldn't want to come back if I didn't.

This is my sixth solo hour and I don't want to talk about things I've already talked about. There's only so much that I have experienced that I can draw upon. You know the kind of stand-up I do, it all comes from truth.

My favourite line from the press release for this year's show was "Suzi is happy". Is this a more positive show?

(Laughs) Well you know what, it is positive but it's about realism in a way. It's about being more realistic about your wants and your dreams and enjoying things more. I'm settled down now with a really nice partner and we've just bought a flat together so I talk about that in the show as well as having a career that I love.

I'm definitely happier and it'll be interesting because people say comedians are at their best when they're miserable and I'm definitely not miserable anymore.

What can people expect from your show this year?

I really wanted to do a show where I didn't talk about homophobia but then homophobia kept happening and unfortunately this year hasn't been great for LGBT laws - another country has made it punishable by death, there's talk in America about doing a straight Pride and homophobic attacks are on the rise at the moment.

So I didn't want to talk about all that but I've got a bit of a platform now and it's important that I talk about things that effects me. That's the sort of stand-up I do, confessional storytelling.

This year I'm also talking about how I used to have anxiety about things but now I worry that things are getting worse politically. I aimed to not do a show where I get angry but the more previews I do the more angry I get but that's sort of your job as a comic, to put a microscope on things and really take them apart.

Why did you decide to call the show Dance Like Everyone's Watching?

My mum has a sign in her house that says "Dance like nobody's watching" and it's absolute bollocks because everyone in my family are show-offs and we all dance as if somebody's watching us at an audition. We're all loud and fun and when we're on the dance floor is like bloody Flashdance.

I was also once heckled by someone who said "You think a lot of yourself" which I think is a really weird way to put someone down - "You've got self-belief. How awful." It was also a woman and I think that's really interesting, a woman heckling another woman like that, almost like saying "Know your place".

So after seeing that sign at my mum's house and that happening I thought, maybe we should all be dancing like everyone's watching. As someone who is slightly an outsider, more than ever before we should all be thinking a lot of ourselves.

And you're finally in a bigger room this year.

Yes. I'm really looking forward to being in a bigger room this year although I've always been really be scared about numbers which is why I stayed in a little room for too long.

People will have bad years and it's so expensive to go, there's so much competition but I felt like this year I had to be more ballsy and go for a bigger room and 8.30pm is like comedy o'clock so it feels like an exciting time to be on.

That's when people build their night around the shows they see at that time. When you perform slightly earlier or slightly later than that you know that you can pick up audience on the day who have just been flyered or are looking for something to watch.

The tour has been a 98% sellout and we had to add an extra week at the Soho Theatre so it feels like I'm finally finding that audience that really like what I do.

What I've loved about you is that you've continued to get better.

Thank you, that's very kind. Well that's the thing, you want to get better and half of it for me was just having the confidence to talk about what I want to talk about on stage.

At a charity gig the other week Tom Ward asked me "Have you got way more physical recently on stage?" and I guess I've always been a bit physical but it made me realise that maybe I am. I think I've always wanted to be really physical on stage but have never really had the confidence to go for it.

Like the Malcolm Gladwell thing of 10,000 hours, you just get way more confident and make bigger choices. For the first five years of me doing stand-up I was terrified of failing and terrified that any of my comedy friends would see me have a bad gig so I was always very safe.

People who feel like an outsider have come to see the show and felt like they were being spoken to which is so amazing to be that person. I never thought anyone would look up to me, I have four GCSEs. If I hadn't found comedy I'd probably be a child minder or a drama teacher but I'm lucky to have found something that I'm good at.

What are you most looking forward to about Edinburgh?

I'm living with Jenny Bede again! She's such a babe and annoys me in the house so that'll be fun. I'm just looking forward performing a show every day that I really fucking enjoy. The first three days I'm absolutely terrified but after that I can enjoy it more.

Who are you looking forward to seeing perform?

Rosie Jones and Jenny Bede, I've seen both of their previews and they're both brilliant and doing some exciting stuff. Chloe Petts is good so it'll be nice to see her two-hander. It'll be nice to see Sophie Duker and Helen Bauer's debut shows.

I actually haven't looked at programme this year because it makes me nervous.

Outside of the Fringe what are you working on?

I'm going to do a spring tour and an autumn tour and I'll go to enough places that want me because it can be extended. I toured about 25 dates with my last tour and I'm hoping to do 40/45 dates this time!

Me and Jenny still have a script in development which is about two best friends changing their lives forever. It's about what two women do when they haven't found the one but want to become mothers.

I'm pitching lots of factual entertainment ideas. Whether any of them will happen I'm not sure but I'm at the stage where people are asking me to come in for meetings so who know if any of these meetings will become anything more than just a meeting.

And then Tom Allen and I are still doing Like Minded Friends podcast and we're trying to find a way to pitch that to telly but we haven't quite figured out what that is yet.

Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?

Finally I'm happy, come see.

Suzi Ruffell: Dance Like Everyone's Watching runs from 31st July - 25th August (not 13th) at 8.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard (Beside). Book tickets here.


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