Dream Gig: Susan Riddell

Glasgow's Susan Riddell brings us a perfectly festive dream gig to round off 2023

Feature by Susan Riddell | 12 Dec 2023
  • Susan Riddell's Dream Gig Illustration

In 2017 I was picked to do the Edinburgh Fringe CKP Lunchtime Special – an afternoon compilation show made up of new talent. I'd only done about ten gigs so I was pretty terrified but I knew I couldn't turn this down as CKP (now known as Blue Book Management) were one of the biggest comedy agencies out there with the likes of Micky Flanagan on their books. 

It was a total bootcamp experience and I learned so much and met some great people. Sindhu Vee was part of the CKP line up – she was the most experienced so she'd give me advice all the time. After finding out I'd never drunk alcohol before a gig, she encouraged me to experience it at least once. 

Spurred on by Sindhu’s words, after we did the Lunchtime show I had another ten minute spot in a pub just off the Royal Mile. I decided to get drunk with my friend (comedian and impressionist) Steff Todd before it. When I got on stage I couldn't remember any of my set and when I tried to speak I just couldn't stop laughing. I admitted to the audience I was drunk and, luckily for me, they found it pretty hilarious. I kept trying to compose myself and do my set but would be overwhelmed by the giggles and it was contagious. Everyone was in fits of laughter as I tried and failed to speak. It was like the 'I love to laugh' song in Mary Poppins; you could have scraped us all off the ceiling. It was a spiritual experience, I'm not joking. Offstage after the gig, people were shaking my hand on the way out and hugging me saying it was the most they'd ever laughed at a show in their life. I have since been drunk on stage a few times – it did not go like this again. Probably for the best.

As for the best gig I can imagine, the truth is – the greatest scenario, the absolute dream for most comedians, which only ever happens once in a blue moon, when the stars align – the gig gets cancelled but you still get paid your fee! It is truly magical. 

Sometimes you turn up to a venue and there is no audience or there is a problem with the plumbing and the gig can't go ahead but they still pay you. Immediately you WhatsApp your comedian group chat to tell everyone the great news and they're green with envy but congratulate you nonetheless. If you knew the gig was going to be a shit-show but the fee is high then it's manna from heaven. Live at the Apollo would be a close second though.

So if I could pick the optimum conditions for this situation, the perfectly pulled gig, it would be in my favourite place in the world – Lapland. In this imaginary scenario me and a bunch of soundies have been booked to do a corporate for some big soulless evil company with deep pockets, but on the eve of the gig – after a day of reindeer rides and petting huskies – the employees are all struck down with food poisoning, the gig is cancelled and the comedians now have to stay in their five star log cabin and get drunk in their pyjamas.

As far as the lineup is concerned I could literally pick any lassies from the Scottish comedy scene and have a great time. Pal, comedian and podcast co-host Amanda Dwyer and I run a monthly all-female gig called Material Girl in Glasgow and there's something so special about getting to do a gig with your lassie pals; sadly it’s still the case that most line-ups remain male-heavy. I could pick any of the comedians who have played this gig with us but let's be practical about this. Along with me and Amanda I'd have Rachel Jackson as she never fails to make me laugh, Marjolein Robertson as she'd be able to hunt reindeer if we got snowed in and Amy Matthews as she is really sensible and could make sure we all invoice the big evil soulless corporation for our fee. One can dream.

Susan Riddell: Self on the Shelf, The Stand, Glasgow, 17 Dec & The Stand, Edinburgh, 20 Dec, 7.30pm, £8-10
Material, Girl, McChuill's, Glasgow, 18 Dec, 8pm, £10. Lineup includes Susan Riddell, Josie Long, Amelia Bayler and more, hosted by Amanda Dwyer.