Happy Days: Suzi Ruffell interview

Suzi Ruffell is happy, and she doesn’t care that everyone’s watching

Feature by Yasmin Hackett | 04 Nov 2019
  • Suzi Ruffell

Suzi Ruffell's current tour show is a feel-good hour of comedy that has already earned acclaim on its run at the Edinburgh Fringe. And the show’s title, Dance Like Everyone’s Watching, leaves little room for doubt as to its tone. "It’s about happiness and it’s about joy," Ruffell tells us.

And that’s not to say it’s devoid of some of the sociopolitical commentary which is characteristic of her shows. But, ultimately, given the events going on in her life, from getting engaged to considering having kids, the timing for a happier show was right.

"There’s that old trope that comedians are all miserable," Ruffell says, "which we’re really not. Most of my best friends are comics and they’re really fun. I think there’s this sort of idea of the sad clown, and we come on stage and we’re all miserable, but I think that’s a cliché that’s mostly dead now. Most of my mates that are stand-ups are quite happy people. We certainly see the world through a slightly different lens, but there’s also a lot of joie de vivre between comics.

"I’ve covered a lot of stuff in my stand-up," Ruffell continues. "I’ve covered grief, I’ve covered heartbreak, I’ve covered having an anxiety disorder, and it takes quite a lot out of you to do that sort of show every week."

Ruffell still doesn’t shy away from tapping into the big issues, but the distraction of bringing others together through comedy can feel like energy better spent. "It’s so hard finding funny in the news at the moment," she explains. "I mean, what’s going on with the Kurdish people in Syria and Turkey, and Brexit – everything is so bleak, and politically it feels like such a sad time. I wanted to write something this year that was fun. I wanted to take people out of that.”

And yet, while distraction can be a welcome relief, there’s still that desire to provoke thought amongst her audiences. "I feel like if I make you laugh for an hour, I can make you think for a couple of minutes.”

Ruffell’s success is still a bit of a surprise to her. "I got into comedy because I loved comedy," she says. "It never even occurred to me that I could make a career out of it.” She’d been gigging for about 18 months when her agent suggested it could be a long-term plan. Now she’s been doing it for ten years.

And despite shying away from the suggestion of her being a 'role model' ("I drink far too much"), her platform as a successful female, working class, gay comedian has made her into something close to it. "If people feel that I have the kind of life that they might want some day, and that I’m quite confident in being a gay person in the world, I think that’s a really lovely thing, if people feel they connect to me in that way."

Suzi Ruffell: Dance Like Everyone's Watching, Glee Club, Glasgow, 17 Nov, 7.30pm, £12-14