‘I know what it’s like to be attacked’ Suzi Ruffell on making queer comedy in an age of trans jokes

Suzi Ruffell described her hit podcast ‘Out’ as “a piece of pride in your pocket.”

Stand-up comic Ruffell thought the show, which is about coming out tales, to last only one season; it is currently in its fifth.

‘Out’ is a beacon of hope for individuals who aren’t in a position to come out themselves – it has thrown a spotlight on notable names from every part of the LGBTQ+ globe. Suzi says she receives emails from listeners who are grateful for the broadcast.

“I wanted to remind folks that there is a large network of us and that we are all in this together,” Ruffell explains.

“I’m attempting to build a sense of community on people’s phones while also covering as many tales as possible.” But there’s always something else I want to do,” she says.

How difficult is it to create a podcast?

Ruffell’s podcast is a labor of love, and she extensively researches her themes to ensure she’s asking original questions. But how does a candid and open discussion about a guest’s sexuality compare to playing in front of a large audience?

“With stand-up, I try to be as authentic as possible on stage, but the nerves are the hardest part,” Suzi adds.

“For ‘Out,’ the first person I spoke with was screenwriter and director Dustin Lance Black. I adore his film ‘Milk,’ and think he’s a brilliant voice in our community, so it was critical that I tell his tale properly.

“It wasn’t nerves per such, but there was apprehension about correctly relaying someone’s tale.” He was nice and lovely, but it’s vital to me that I use and appreciate the time that others give me.”

Suzi also hosts a number of other podcasts, including ‘Like-Minded Friends,’ an unscripted chat with a friend and fellow queer comic Tom Allen that she characterizes as a mess.’

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“Our podcast is a peaceful oasis where you can just listen to chit-chat.” Ruffell says, “It’s also important to us that it’s openly queer chit-chat.”

Has the public’s perception of LGBTQ+ comedians shifted?

Ruffell has been performing stand-up comedy for almost a decade, and her popularity has grown since her Amazon Prime special debuted in May 2022.

In British comedy, gay men have a long history, but the same cannot often be true for the rest of the LGBT community. Has Ruffell noticed a shift in LGBT artists’ acceptance during her years on the road?

“Our community has a lot more folks that do stand-up,” she says.

“In the clubs and on the ground doing gigs, it’s grown a lot less antagonistic.” Mach Fest and the Edinburgh Fringe, for example, have greatly aided this.”

According to Ruffell, the internet has revolutionized the way comedians find an audience, allowing podcast listeners and YouTube viewers to fill out their audiences in ways that were unimaginable 20 years ago.

She also maintains that a large portion of her audience is straight, despite the fact that her most devoted admirers are frequently LGBT.

“It’s a common misperception that queer entertainers perform for queer audiences,” the comic explains.

“There are always more straight folks in the audience when I’m on tour.”

“A lot of people from our neighborhood come to see me, and they’re usually the ones who stick around until the end to get a photo.”

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What impact does comedy have on the trans community?

Ricky Gervais’ stand-up special was released on Netflix earlier this year to widespread criticism for its ostensibly transphobic content, and Dave Chappelle received similar criticism in 2021.

What does Ruffell think about comics utilizing their platforms to make jokes about a crucial section of the LGBTQ+ community?

“With every civil rights movement, there are those who will make offensive jokes about it,” the comedian says.

“It’s critical, in my opinion, that there are voices out there to contradict it.”

Ruffell avoids telling people what they can and can’t say, but she makes it plain that she doesn’t want anyone at her shows to feel assaulted.

“As a queer person, you’ve already experienced being attacked or threatened.

“As a stand-up comedian, you can talk about anything on stage – absolutely anything – but I don’t want to talk about something that is actually damaging to someone.”

“There are a lot of individuals that do it, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” All I can do is make a positive and inclusive comedy. “At the end of the show, I want everyone to feel encouraged.”

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