Suzi Ruffell is joining Gayming Magazine to make history on Wednesday 24 February as the host of the Gayming Awards 2021, presented by EA Games, exclusively on Twitch!
Suzi is a critically-acclaimed queer comedian who is best known for her British TV appearances on Live At The Apollo, Mock The Week, Go 8 Bit and more. Suzi Ruffell has also had five sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Festival with stand-up shows racking up critical acclaim from reviewers and audiences alike.
The Gayming Awards are the world’s first award ceremony celebrating all that is great about LGBTQ video gaming. The Awards set out to celebrate the achievements of the global gaming industry in representing and championing the LGBTQ world through video games.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Suzi to talk about her career, her love of video games and her role in the Awards.
Robin: Hi Suzi, thanks for joining me, what got you into doing stand up comedy?
Suzi: Hello! I saw Lee Evans live when I was 14, I remember being totally blown about by this one person making thousands of people laugh, I thought comedy was magnificent, I still do.
It was about 12 years ago that I first thought about giving stand up a go, it took a few months to pluck up the courage to actually get on stage but after my first gig I was totally hooked. I would waitress or work in shops throughout the day and spend every evening cycling across London to open mic nights, routinely gigging in front of less than ten people trying to work out what was funny.
What was your first gig and how did it go?
It was at a place terrifyingly called The Lion’s Den! I have no idea what I said on stage but I know I made a small audience laugh and it was the best noise in the world.
You’ve been at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival now five times, what’s so special about the Edinburgh Fringe?
It’s a great place to get a show ready to tour around the country, it also gives you a deadline to have all your material ready by. At the Fringe you do 26 shows in 26 days, and if you are lucky, and your show sells out, you get to do extra shows. Last year I did five extra shows, it was knackering but felt like a real achievement.
You hear loads of funny stories about shows and life at The Fringe, what was your funniest experience?
I think going and seeing other stand up comedians shows is one of the best things about being at the Fringe, also the late night gigs are fun and sometimes raucous!
You’ve done a lot of TV work, what are the main differences you find from comedy on TV to live performances?
With TV it’s a different sort of pressure… doing a show like Live at the Apollo, you walk out and there’s more than 3000 people and cameras all over the place, so you know you need to just get the planned material out in the right order and not fall over as you leave the stage. A tour show is much looser, you have lots of time to chat to the crowd and be more playful.
Which format do you prefer?
You can’t really do the telly shows if you haven’t worked the material up in the live setting before. Doing panel shows are fun, especially if you are working with friends, I recently shot an episode of Hypothetical for Dave and everyone on the show was a mate so we just had a laugh for two hours. Live TV is something else all together, when I did Channel 4’s Last Leg, I improvised a line that got a huge laugh and when we went to the ad break, Adam Hills reminded me I had just improvised in front of a million people, that felt very exciting!
You’re an out and proud queer female, how has this impacted on being a stand up?
I can only be who I am. I have always been myself on stage, if someone doesn’t like me because I am queer, that’s their problem!
You were nominated for a British LGBT Award this year, congrats! How did that make you feel when you found out?
That was really special, I was really chuffed. I make a podcast called Out with Suzi Ruffell where I interview famous and interesting folk about coming out, being out and finding their place in the world. I made it because I want more queer represenation and because I would have loved a show like it to have existed when I was realising my sexuality, so having that recognised was brilliant.
You’re here today because you’re going to be making history with us as the host of the world’s first LGBTQ video game awards, what do you love about video games?
I am delighted! Very excited to be part of it. I think video games are a great way to switch off, to go completely into another world and lets be honest we have all needed that this year!
What’s your favourite game or game series?
I recently got a VR headset and I love it! I have been playing a lot of Vader Immortal and The Thrill of The Fight on the PS4 my girlfriend. I also like playing Borderlands and the Spider-Man game is superb!
We got the VR headset at the start of lockdown as I just needed to be able to go somewhere else, even if that was virtually!
Always great to meet another Borderlands fan! Like the rest of 2020/21, the Gayming Awards are going to be virtual, how have you found doing comedy in lockdown?
It’s been strange. To begin with I wasn’t really sure how to do stand up online, but after trying it a few times I realised I had to change some of my material to make it work. Now I love online gigs and I imagine they will be here to stay in some way.
Quick shout out to your other podcast, Like Minded Friends with the fabulous Tom Allen, I adore it! How did that come about?
Thanks so much! Tom and I became friends about a decade ago after both having an awful gig at a charity night. We decided the only way to cheer ourselves up was to have a drink and get to know each other, the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
We started Like Minded Friends because we both didn’t have a lot on and thought it would be fun just to put something out. We have created this wonderful audience who always listen and get in touch, one review said ‘it’s basically gay white noise, I absolutely love it!’ which we thought was great. We have such fun recording it!
Assuming a return to somewhat normal this year, what are you looking forward to?
I can’t wait to go to the pub with my friends or out to dinner somewhere nice, or the theatre or the cinema, basically anywhere that isn’t my flat!
After the Gayming Awards, of course, what other big things are coming up for you?
I have lots of TV and writing work coming up, I have a sitcom in development and lots of other projects on the go. I am just excited to get back to doing stand up!
But first lets make history with the Gayming Awards!
How can our readers keep up with you?
The Gayming Awards, presented by EA Games, will be exclusively broadcast worldwide on Twitch at www.twitch.tv/gaymingmag/, on February 24th 2021, at 8pm GMT (3pm ET, 12pm PT).