Edinburgh Fringe Review: Suzi Ruffell, Pleasance Courtyard

suzi ruffell

At the very start of Suzi Ruffell’s set she knocked the microphone out of its stand. This was the only slip-up in an hour of excellent comedy that should win her plenty of plaudits this August.

You’ve got to have a USP in Edinburgh and Ruffell’s unique selling point is that she is a working class lesbian, not one of “your Toksvigs, yours Baldings, your Perkins.” She is not exactly like a real-life member of East Enders though. She has gone up in the world and Keeping It Classy is all about bridging that divide. 

She certainly paints a vivid picture of her Portsmouth family, which both conforms to cliche and undercuts it. They are loud and brash but not the kind of working class racists who voted for Leave. Not all of them anyway. There is always that awkward moment with an elderly relative at Christmas: “Thank you for the body lotion and for ruining my future.”

Ruffell, however, escaped to London where she got a posh girlfriend and became middle class. There’s some great crowdpleasing material about breaking up, therapy and being chatted up in a club.

Social mobility is not an entirely new subject for stand-up of course. Micky Flanagan’s breakthrough show was also about switching from ketchup to balsamic vinegar, but Ruffell brings fresh elements to the party. This "mouthy cow" is acutely concerned about wanting to appear to be a good person even though it can result in awkward situations. She recalls with a shudder an incident where somehow giving money to a homeless man ended up making her look racist. 

Ruffell brings a high energy element to the party and has a cartoonish, expressive, impish face which adds to the comedy. She barely stands still and some routines involve jogging frenetically on the spot while talking non-stop. In a way the closest comparison might be Lee Evans, although she doesn’t sweat anywhere near as much. Meet Suzi Ruffell - the new Lee Evans but with more effective deodorant.  

Suzi Ruffell: Keeping It Classy, Pleasance Courtyard until August 27. Tickets here.



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