Crystal Booth

Interview: Isy Suttie

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Isy Suttie is best known for playing Dobby in Peep Show. She is continuing her debut solo tour, Love Lost in the British Retail Industry this Friday 22 October at the Durham Gala Theatre. Nominated for the British Comedy Awards ‘Best Female Newcomer’ and with a sell out show at Edinburgh’s Fringe festival in 2007, she’s a lady who knows how to make people laugh.

If you haven’t seen her before she’s been compared to Victoria Wood but read on and you’ll see that she is very much her own woman. It’s clear to see that the 32 year old from Hull is just a normal down to earth Northern lass working her way up in the business. So what has she got to say for herself?

CB:  This is your debut national tour, how’s it going?

IS: It’s going good, I’m getting used to it now, I’m eating a lot of sandwiches on trains at the moment. I’ve been to Durham University before and it’s a lovely city. I haven’t been on a night out there, so I’ll have to try that.

CB: The tour is centered on the characters Lisa and Carl and their romance in a supermarket. Where did you come up with the idea?

IS: I did it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007. I wrote songs for it at university and later decided to write the script because of the songs I’d came up with. It’s a bit like panto in some places, there’s a fairy God mother and a singer song writer a bit like Avril Lavigne.

CB: The love story is based in a supermarket, do you think people can fall in love anywhere?

IS: Yeah, you would think that. People used to fall in love in concentration camps, it just shows how the human heart can triumph in any awful environment, obviously a supermarket isn’t as bad but it’s an artificial environment, it’s not somewhere you’d expect people to meet. There’s always opportunities in offices as they’re very flirty places.

I’ve worked in two supermarkets in Matlock, mostly big ones, so it’s the kind of environment I know.

CB: Your character Lisa, is she based on anyone you know, or is she just a figment of your imagination?

IS: She’s a figment, she’s not based on me but she does live in a small town like I did, so she knows everyone. What normally happens is that you go on a date with someone and everyone knows about it.

When I was working in Matlcock, there’s was this lad I fancied and I thought he was so exotic because he lived in another town.

CB: You’re well known for playing Dobby in Peep Show. Are there any similarities between you?

IS: Yeah, she’s like how I’d like to be. She doesn’t care what people think of her but I do think she’s more vulnerable than me, especially the way she is with Mark.  I’m not into the role playing and all that like she is

She’s also more tom boyish than me and very rock and roll. She’s doubly cooler than I am.

CB: So, how did you get into stand up when you’re an actress and writer?

IS: I played guitar and wanted to be a serious singer/songwriter and the desire didn’t really ever go away.

At college I tried out serious songs that I’d wrote but people started to laugh at them, so I thought I can make people laugh. I then performed a song in an awful Spanish accent and that went down well and I loved the feeling of making people laugh.

I didn’t want to do stand up though until I was ready and no one should. It is scary when you first get up on stage and it’s a very lonely existence. It takes over your life. You never have a social life and don’t have much time to see your partner.

CB: You won the Daily Telegraphs Young Jazz award. Is this why you decided to do songs in your routine rather than tell jokes for an hour and a half?

IS: I was 16 when I did it and was at college. I don’t really know why it was called the young jazz award because it was more of a singer/songwriter competition. I got to do a masterclass in Manchester which was brilliant.

I’ve been writing songs since I was about 11, I’ve got about 1,000 now, some are awful.

CB: Many people compare you to Victoria Wood as you both perform songs in your routine. How do you feel about that?

IS: It’s a great honour but the media and people like to put people into categories. They need a point of reference so they can say you’re like so, and so.  I didn’t set out to be like her, I don’t want people to feel I’ve copied her because I’ve been writing songs and performing them for years.

CB: There aren’t that many high profile comediennes around at the moment. Do you think more women should get into comedy?

IS: I don’t want to be the person to fly the flag for women in comedy. I don’t really care if more women get into comedy. Everyone should do what they want to do, it shouldn’t matter if it’s a man or women doing it.  As long as I can make people laugh I’m happy.

CB: Finally, what have you got planned after your tour?

IS: Well it’s been very manic so I’m going to take some time out.

I’m writing a film with my friend Tom Basden so we’ll be trying to get that made and I’m going to be in a new BBC Two show Whites with Alan Davies and of course Peep Show is back in February. I’m also hoping to write some more stuff for telly.