13. Susan Calman - Look! There’s a wee lesbian on the telly! (PART ONE)
PART ONE OF THE SUSAN CALMAN TWO-PARTER SPECIAL
Sofie talks to the amazing Susan Calman about wanting to be a movie star, struggles with femininity, going to comedy shows alone, being a weirdo, Thatcher, homophobia, cool women in comedy, being sexy, doing a tv-show together and the topic of school which turns into a much more serious conversation, which will carry on in part two.
Correction: The allegations against Mike Pence were found to not be true, but he is still a monster*: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/heard-the-latest-story-about-pence-on-rape-victims-fact-checker-shows-its-f
Sofie: Hello. You are listening to the Made of Human Podcast. I’m Sofie Hagen. I have to do this very quickly and very quietly because my housemates are probably asleep. It’s almost half past midnight, and I really want to put this episode out as soon as possible. I came straight from the interview — the chat — with Susan Calman. It took us I think about two hours, I haven’t checked yet, and it was, um, in-incredible. I want you to listen to this as soon as I can because it was two hours, I’m going to split it up into two parts. So the first part you’re going to hear now…it’s not too — it’s not that bad, it’s, it’s um, it’s not too heavy, it’s uh, it’s — I don’t remember when we started talking about uh, some dark more serious stuff, but uh, I’ll try and give you like the first hour of our conversation, then I’m pretty sure next week when you get part two, that’s going a bit more — you know. We basically talked about, um, a trigger warning here, this might be a bit, uh, triggering to some people, I don’t think we touch upon it in the first bit, but in the second bit, there will be talk about, uh, suicide attempts, depression and uh, self harm. Well, you know, I mean…we — I think we both at times cried, it’s quite weird. It took me a long time to realise she was crying, literally I must be like a robot, because in my head I was going “oh, water is coming from her eyes, I wonder why” and because she was smiling and talking, and *sigh* anyways she is probably the most incredible human being in the world, and, uh, yeah, we get quite deep, but it starts out not dark, so I think the first episode is gonna be the first part of the two parter Susan Calman special, I don’t think that was too dark, as far as I remember, but I need to record this now before my housemates like fall too deeply asleep, and I might wake them up, so I can’t really listen to it and then record this, that’s all admin based. But I just — I just want this to be released as quickly as possible, because, uh, I feel like everyone has to — everyone should hear what Susan has to say, because she’s — I mean if you — I’ve had depression, and actually after I’ve spoken to Susan I think I say I have had a depression where I don’t think it will ever leave, and I think I have a depression, and I don’t think I’ve said that out loud since, uh, since I stopped seeing a therapist. I have a depression, and it’s always gonna be there, in some capacity, in some…in some aspect, you know, it’ll take different shapes and different forms, and it will always be there, and I think after talking to Susan made it..I think I’m no longer in need of distancing myself from it, but, so, I’ll talk more about that before the next episode, part two of the two parter section of this podcast, but this is part one, I just think it will be relatively fun and quite nice, yeah, still serious, because we talk a lot of politics in this, but, uh, I just want you to listen to this ASAP, and next Wednesday I’m gonna put out the second part, which is the one that gets a bit dark, I suggest you do listen to this part, because we’re referencing some things that we..you know, we didn’t have a break when we recorded it, so, uh, yeah, I suggest you listen to both of them. I’m just rambling on about something you’re going to listen to anyway so, uh, yeah, thank you, I’m not going to edit this intro together to make it look or sound more slick or radio-like or cool, or as if I know what I’m doing because, um, yeah, this is very much in the spirit of the episode, so, uh, and also, I’m not sure about the sound as we were holding the mics, instead of having the, on a table, but we’ll survive. We’ll be fine. Listen, we’ll all be fine. And just because this is the first episode I’ve released, uh, after knowing about the election
results, which I will talk to Susan about in a bit, but, um, I know we’re all really scared, and I know we’re all really sad, and um, it feels hopeless, it feels like it’s all going in the wrong direction and I’m sorry that this is happening. Remember to breath. I know it sounds ridiculous, but remember to breath, and, uh, breath, be sad, feel sorry for yourself, we need to all feel sorry for ourselves, because, you know we need to give ourselves a big hug, and say “don’t worry, it will all be okay, we’ll figure something out” and we need to turn off the sad feelings, and need to turn on the immense anger and the want to start a fuxking fight, and we need to start fucking doing something about it, and we need to donate to all the places that need us right now, join a party — join the Labour Party, in Denmark join Enhedslisten, in America get involved, fucking get ready to go out there, donate to Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, google what can I do if you’re white, google what can I do as a white person, what people do to help, to stop the things that are happening, um, I am going to see, and I say this to Susan as well, my extremely racist, like extremely gross, horrible grandfather, well I’m not seeing him, I’m seeing my grandmother, but he lives with her, so he is part of the package deal, and, uh, I usually just argue with him, and that has to stop, because he has a vote, and the world isn’t fair, he gets to vote, so it’s my duty as a white person to make him realise that racism is bad. It’s not enough just to, you know, soothe my ego a bit, and debate him so that I feel like I’m more intelligent than him, and even though I am, it’s not enough, I need get down to a level he can understand, and I need to actually try to explain this to him, because it’s not about me, it’s not about us anymore, it’s about..we need to start fucking doing something, and I think we spend a lot of time as like white people being really horrified by racism, but are we doing anything when we run into it, when we see it. Are we actually doing anything? I haven’t done enough, I’ve tried sometimes, and then I’ve felt really good about myself, but I don’t think I’ve done enough, and I don’t know..I need to start doing things even though they’re uncomfortable, because that’s just how it is. Anyways, I’ll let you listen to the Susan Calman episode now — this part of the two parter. Thank you for being really, um, for being my listeners, I love you all very, very much, and, uh, please enjoy Susan Calman.
Sofie: Yeah, should be open.
Susan: Is it okay that the window is open?
Sofie: It should be fine, I mean, I’ve done it with a lot more noise.
Susan: It’s a bit of an atmosphere.
Sofie: I think it’s fine.
Susan: It’s like we’re crazy Soho chicks, in Soho.
Sofie: Also, I think it’s the only one I have recorded outside of the Phoenix Artist Club, that’s where I usually do it.
Susan: Oh, good, lovely.
Sofie: We’re in your house.
Susan: Welcome..to my flat in Soho Sofie Hagen.
Sofie: it’s really….white, it’s very white and beige.
Susan: It’s…uh, a rented flat, and it’s very bachelor from the 1980s *Sofie laughs* kinda strange thing.
Sofie: Glass table, there’s been so much cocaine on that table.
Susan: There has been..not from me.
Sofie: No, no, no.
Susan: And I have a washing in that I’m not gonna hang up til you leave.
Sofie: Oh, no, won’t it be smelly?
Susan: No, no, it’s fine, but I did it while I was out, and I didn’t want you to come in and see my pants lying everywhere.
Sofie: Why-Why-Why am I here? Why did you think I came?
Susan: I just didn’t want to hang up my pants
Sofie: It’s not recording.
Susan: Is it not recording? It is recording? Okay.
Sofie: So I just saw your show, and I took notes on my hand because I couldn’t reach my notebook.
Susan: Yep. Uhuh.
Sofie: So now I have all these words written all over my arm, uh, and I checked, and it’s not too bad. It’s not too bad.
Sofie: There’s just some things in your show I just really wanted to talk about.
Uh, I wrote Keira
Both: Keira , Keira , Keira
Sofie: Am I pronouncing it right?
Susan: Yeah, no, Keira
Sofie: It sounds Swedish now..Keira . And then I wrote Franco because..so you talked about Keira Knightley..is she like your celebrity crush, or is that just because it was part of a story?
Susan: It was purely because I have always wanted to be a film star. When I was younger, uh, I used to sit with my — my Gran used to look after me, and she loved old films, like Greta Garbo, and Marlene Dietrich, and, um, I have always wanted to be a film star, like an ingénue.
Sofie: I don’t know that word.
Susan: It’s uh, it’s like the young, frippery ladies — the pretty kind of romantic leads.
Sofie: Ahh, the one that like..not, not faints, what do you call it, (Susan: Absolutely) there’s a Danish word dåne, where it’s just like ahhhh, and then you just fall, almost, and get caught, and it’s black and white.
Susan: It’s when Garbo was like Camille, and she was lying in bed, and she had consumption you know, I grew up wanting to be, ah, a film star, but a Hollywood film star, which is something different, and..which is slightly unlikely, so when my agent phoned up and said there was like a Hollywood film, and I was like “oh my god, this is it”, and of course, it didn’t, but I’ve always wanted to be, you know, a Hollywood film star.
Sofie: Did you dress up? Or..how did that come..because I wanted..I don’t think I wanted to be famous, but I wanted the attention that I presumed that famous people would get, and what I would do, and this is really sad, from all like teen magazines, when they would like have an interview with a celebrity, I would cut out the questions, and put it into a notebook, and answer it, as if I was the famous star, and I never did anything else, with like the performance of the film or anything, I just really like the idea of someone being like “how are you? What do you want? What do you like? Who are you as a person?” Because I could be like “oh, oh wow, this question caught me completely off guard” *Susan laughs* but then you start being actually interviewed, and you realise, people don’t ask you the questions you want them to ask
Susan: Oh god, no, they ask the same questions again and again, it’s the same interview, I’ve been doing the same interview for ten years with the press. But I think it was because…being a…short..um..generous lady, who was never skinny, I’ve never been skinny..ever, ever ever been skinny, that I used to look at these women. And the thing is in Hollywood, they weren’t skinny, necessarily. They were voluptuous and they were…so it wasn’t like you had to be skinny to be a film star, you could be like a proper woman, and I think I wanted just that glamour. I’ve got a weird dichotomy. It’s a weird thing, I’m really gay, and really, really down with being butch, or not feminine, but I really want to do Strictly Come Dancing..because I struggle with my femininity, that in a way, I think I rejected femininity because I don’t think I look very attractive. So I went the opposite direction, so at university, I wore Doc Martins, and army coats, and I shaved my head, and I pierced my nose, I thought “well, sod it, if people don’t think I’m attractive, I’ll just pretend that I don’t care if I look attractive “
Sofie: Like “I never try to be”.
Susan: Yeah, I’ll make it a political thing and go “well, I don’t want to look like a woman anyway, because that’s the patriarchy” and actually, there is a part of me that really wants to be attractive to people
Sofie: So in Strictly Come Dancing would you have to wear kind of fancy — I’ve never watched it — but is it like fancy dresses and stuff.
Susan: Oh, god Sofie, sequins, fake tan, wigs, makeup, high heels, the whole shabang.
Sofie: Would you feel comfortable in that?
Sofie: Because whenever I dress womanly, I..I hate…I feel like I’m…I feel…when I was..I must have been about eleven I think, because I moved out of the village I was from when I was ten, so I had to come back, and one of my friends was throwing this birthday party, and I wanted to look good, so I asked my Grandmother what to wear, because…nerd, and she picked out this outfit that she would wear, so I arrived at this party, eleven years old with this long dress that reached my ankles, and a tiny thin scarf around my neck…dressed like an old person basically, and it was the most…I think I think about that maybe once a week. Oh my god. And in my head is like “there’s someone trying to look like a woman, but she’s failing at looking like a woman”. And I think that every time I dress up, and you can see that I’m trying to be like really womanly or elegant, I have that image in my head of people going like “she’s just pretending to look like one”. I feel like that’s how I would feel if I had to wear sequins.
Susan: I think that’s kind of how….that’s kind of how I would feel as well. I think I’ve just always…my body shape is such…as a shorter lady, I say I’m short, I’m 4ft 10”, I have a suspicion I’m shorter than that, Sofie, I think I’m even lying about that.
Sofie: You’re lying about the truth about your height?
Susan: I have this suspicion I’m actually like 4 ft 9”, as.. I read a really interesting biography of Judy Garland, I’ve always loved Judy Garland, she talked about the pressure she was under, so when she was at MDM, they fed her full of uppers, and downers, and said she was too fat, and she notoriously said that she had a waist that started at her shoulders. So she was really high waisted, you know, and didn’t really have a waist particularly, and that’s why they kept cramming her into corsets and everything.
Susan: And I’m exactly the same, I don’t have a discernible waist. I’m kind of..kind of, I’ve got skinny legs..and a large stomach, and no real waist. And I think my body shape has always been a difficulty, because when I buy clothes, if I buy a jacket, the waist is in the wrong place, because it’s for a taller person, so nothing ever fits me, or suits me, or looks nice on me. And the best moment…I did a show, a television show, and they paid for someone to make a suit for me.
Sofie: Like sew it?
Susan: Yeah, designed it. And I’ve never felt the joy of putting on something that — this was about three years ago — that genuinely fitted me, and the waist was in the right place. So when I get trousers, because I have to cut about seven or eight inches off the bottom of them, there are always so wide, because I’m actually cutting them off at the calf, at mid calf, so everything flaps. So jackets never fit at the shoulders, and nothing ever fits, and that then contributes to me feeling like I don’t look good because nothing ever feels good, and I think..I always just really…I would love to walk into a room, this is a really terrible admission, I would love to walk into a room like they do in the movies, and have everyone turn around and go “oh my god! There she is!” instead of doing what I do, which is just shuffle in at the back with my rucksack and go “hello, that’s me here”. And in a way, when I’m onstage, when I’m really confident, because you saw me tonight, I’m like super, SUPER confident, that’s the meI would like to be. And in reality I’m not that person.
Sofie: I saw, there was about, just where I was sitting, we were four people who were there alone, and uh, one of us — I feel so connected to these people — and one of them had a book, and was just reading the book, before the show, not during the show, and I really, really, really love comedians who attract the kind of audiences that come alone, I feel like that is an amazing thing, and I’ve also come to terms with..I’m not the life of any party, I’m a lot closer to being the death of a party, I’ll ruin the party. But, uh, I love that that means that other people who are the same, the other freaks, the other people who feel like that, the other people with the backpacks, they then come and see me, and then we all feel like we’re all in this together. We’re all a bit weird.
Susan: But it’s interesting because… this was before you did your anxiety tour thing you’re doing, when I was at the Pleasance this year, at the Fringe, when I was doing my briefing to the ushers, and they were very open to it — it’s not a bad story this — I said to them, please don’t refer to people as “ladies and gentlemen”.
Sofie: Ohh, cool.
Susan: I said please don’t do that because you don’t know who it is that you’re speaking to.
Susan And, I have very little control over the toilets and all of those kinds of things that you’re interested in, but I did say at the start of the show, please go to whichever toilet you self identify with, because that’s fine in this show. And I think..I’m also curious as well, I don’t speak to the audience, I ask them questions, but I don’t speak to them, so I don’t pick on someone and say..
Sofie: Oh god no, me neither. Oh god no.
Susan: You know, because I think people are quite…I’m an anxious person, and I don’t like to feel like the centre of attention, but I think that a lot of people come to my shows because they met up on the internet, I had a group in last night and they clearly were friends, but had never met.
Sofie: *gasp* Yeah
Susan: And they’d met the first time at the show because they kind of know that my shows aren’t kind of necessarily upset them.
Sofie: Yeah, yeah, we’re on their side.
Susan: Yeah,I think so. And I..I just want…being..growing up in Glasgow, under Clause 28, and Section 28 as a gay lady..
Sofie: Which is..
Susan: So they were..that was the legislation that Thatcher put in which essentially said that schools weren’t allowed to talk about or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle. So..
Sofie: Was that just in the UK or just Scotland?
Susan: In the UK.
Susan: And in Scotland, they tried to repeal the clause, and there was a big campaign called Keep The Clause Campaign, and I remember growing up and seeing billboards saying keep the clause…you know..your children aren’t safe, and all that kind of stuff. And growing up during the “gay plague”, the AIDS epidemic, and knowing how isolated I felt, because I really did, we didn’t have the internet..you couldn’t get a gay magazine for heaven’s sakes. I never want anyone to feel as isolated as I did at that point, and sometimes people say “why do you bang on about being gay all the time?” And it’s because when I was growing up, I used to see Sandi Toksvig, and Sue Perkins on my television, and I felt, in a strange way…somehow I felt slightly better because there was somebody else that I looked at and thought “well, they’re okay”. And I do a lot of children’s BBC now, and I hope that there’s a wee lesbian going “oh look! There’s a wee lesbian on the television!” And they don’t feel like it’s a bad thing to be gay.
Susan: Because, whilst I never felt guilty about my sexuality, I felt…I felt that other people hated me because of who I was. And again in the show I talk quite a lot about..we seem to have entered a time where things are frightening for a lot of people.
Susan: And I think a lot of people feel slightly despondent about life just now, which is bad, and I think what you need to do, is if you are part of that group of people who doesn’t hate people is to know that there are other people out there who similarly don’t hate people, and you’re not on your own in being a liberal, you know.
Sofie: Yeah, and I remember when all the reaction started pouring in, and I think this was actually when Brexit happened, or maybe it was when the right wing won in Denmark, I don’t remember, but there was someone saying “if they had lost, they would be really, really angry. We lost, and we cry.” it’s another feeling that drives us to..our feeling is hope and love,and wanting people to be safe, and theirs is fuelled by fear and hate, and anger, and it’s not the same, it’s not just A or B, or winning or losing, it’s love or hate. It’s so deep. I love how you said it in your show that it was we just don’t hate people.
Susan: Yeah, to stop apologising for not hating people.
Susan: Because sometimes, us leftie liberals, we go “oh, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I don’t hate people”, and you go “what, come on now”. Things have changed in the past two years, when people used to say “all these liberal comedians, and no one right wing gets a say”, and now all there is is right wing people having their say, and actually, we are now, to a certain extent, the minority, in terms of what we are actually trying to say in life.
Susan: And about kindness, and I really worry about LGBT+ rights, in America..I don’t know what’s going to happen over there, but even here. You know, we got equal marriage, and I thought “my god, finally this country has changed”, and it’s a worry when you have people cutting back on HIV treatment when you have people, um, saying things about gay people, and you “think my god, we’re going right back to where I grew up”.
Susan: And I suppose it’s our role..I actually feel more excited right now Sofie, than I ever have been about comedy.
Susan: Because instead of it being about flaccid entertainment, we can actually do something now. I think
Susan: There’s a point to what we do.
Sofie: You can point to a specific thing and say “you can do this right now”, yeah, yeah.
Susan: So if your aim is partly on your tour to persuade people to come out and to say your anxiety will not stop you and all of those kind of things, and that’s a point. And my point is “Hey, I like Europe, and I don’t think you should hate gay people, and women are grand.” And that’s a fine point.
Sofie: You had a really good point in your show about, um, Ireland?
Sofie: Because I, as a stupid foreigner, who doesn’t know anything about what has been going on in this country, and in Ireland as well. When I first came to Ireland I was told that abortion isn’t legal, it..I couldn’t have been…in my head that’s like saying “women here can’t vote”. That’s such a basic human right. It blew my mind that this is something the whole world isn’t losing its mind over, the fact that abortion isn’t legal in Ireland, and you made a good point that people don’t really hear about..do you think it stems from this “oh, I’m sorry I’m liberal” feeling? That might be why we aren’t hearing enough about it, because people might have that self imposed, British, pseudo-humble think of going “oh, no I don’t want to yell too loudly”.
Susan: I think, and I think that this may be a controversial point of view..
Sofie: Go on.
Susan: Is that..so I have an incredible love for Samantha Bee, like, absolute adoration, because when she talks about something to do with women, or a minority, she gets it. And when she talks about it, there is a power in what she’s saying, and I think one of the problems is every single host — and this is not a “oh, I want to get on television, this is not what this is — we see the world through the eyes of white, straight men. So when you have a topical show, they’re not necessarily as aware as I am of the lovely Grainne Maguire, and what she’s doing, or necessarily the beautiful Bridget Christie, or the gorgeous Sara Pascoe, or the incredible Katherine Ryan, you know, who are very visible, and brilliant people, but if I was hosting a show, I’d say “I want Grainne Maguire on for ten minutes what Repeal the eighth is all about” And the fact that I can do a show in Glasgow, and fly for half an hour to Belfast, and talk about..I remember the first time I did that, I did a show about marrying my wife, and I did it in Belfast and about ten minutes in I went “Oh my god you can’t get married.” And it’s half an hour from Glasgow, and again, it’s part of the United Kingdom, and gay people don’t have equality. I think it’s about the fact that we don’t have that voice. We don’t have somebody saying “hang on a second, uh, women’s reproductive rights. My god we have to protect this from a lot of people right now, in America, Roe Vs Wade, you know. The most important thing I think about the American debates, the presidential debates that I saw, I’ve got a qualification in American Supreme Court Law. Of course I have, Sofie, and they were talking about Roe Vs Wade, and if you don’t know, well it’s the case that’s about abortion in America, and the question was about late term abortions, and Hillary Clinton spoke, from a legal background, and said “well you only do it if the health of the child or the mother is at risk”, and Donald Trump said “well they rip children from the wombs of the mothers”, playing into, you know, everyone’s bogeyman fears. And we have lived a very nice life in this country, to a certain extent, because I’ve always been able to get birth control or whatever it is you need, and we take it for granted, but you have women in Ireland, who have to fly to Britain..now all the women I know who have had abortions, have never done that lightly, that is not something that women do. But, I think I have never been more aware of my gender and my life than I am at this precise moment in time, about so many issues.
Sofie: Those..so, ah, the woman who was meant to go to court, ah, against Donald Trump for him raping her, she drew back her complaint….lawsuit…and I saw someone on Twitter or Facebook or something saying “oh, she shouldn’t have done that, blah blah blah”, and I just want to say we are all…no one can blame her, like he is the most powerful man in the world. And he’s a rapist, people have difficulties reporting rapists, who are just regular people they met in the city, how is it going to take less effort to, you know, the president of the United States.
Susan: You have to fact check this before it goes out, Sofie, but I’m pretty sure that Mike Pence, or someone like that has made a statement that says something like “women would say they were raped to get time off work”.
Sofie: If I just add “allegedly” then we’re fine.
Susan: It doesn’t work, but try it. There is such a discussion about…
Sofie: He’s insane, like he’s properly fucking…the devil
Susan: Oh, he is, he’s properly insane. But that’s what I was saying in the show, we have been..a lot of people have been blindsided by Donald Trump, but the danger is not Donald Trump, the guy’s an idiot, but there are checks and balances. But Mike Pence..the idea of conversion therapy..you know they had it in this country, they basically tortured gay people with electrodes, to stop them being gay, and..my point is we can’t sneer at America, because, if you recall the Brexit vote in the Supreme Court, when the Daily Mail had that picture of the three judges, that said “openly gay ex-fencer” you know, for the judge. And the ex-fencer thing is funny, the interesting thing is “openly gay”, like “how dare he be openly gay”.
Sofie: Yeah, as a opposed to..?
Susan: Why is that even…what’s the problem? And the language about gay people, about any minorities. You know, the language about Europeans in this country, and “all you Europeans coming over here, sponging off my taxes”, and I suppose my point is the negative rhetoric that I’m hearing. So, I remember when the Conservatives won the general election, and my Facebook feed was full of people saying if you voted Conservative, defriend me. Now. I am not a Conservative voter, Sofie, that may surprise you.
Sofie:*gasp* get out…of your house.
Susan:But at the same time, people vote Conservative for a lot of different reasons, and to simply stop the discourse between us all, and to turn it into a black and a white, yes and a no, “I hate you because you’re this person”, it’s what leads to some of the horrific things. “You’re brown”. “You’re an asylum seeker”. “You’re a benefit fraudster”. And are you ever talking to people and asking why they’re here, and who they are, and you know. How about we actually ask people questions?
Sofie: I think it’s the most important thing after this thing, and I’m kind of ashamed I didn’t know about it sooner, didn’t realise it sooner, because I’m one of those people…I block and delete and I don’t want to hear it, because it upsets me so much that these people exist. But then after the election, a lot of people have pointed out that this thing of, you know, if people are racist, they won’t listen to people of colour, if people are homophobic, they won’t listen to gay people, if people are sexist, they won’t listen to women, which means, as a white person, I have the possibility of maybe reaching a racist, which people of colour can’t do. So me shutting up is almost like the bully that just doesn’t interfere. And it really shifted my whole head, because, you know, I’m off to visit my very, very racist grandfather in a week, and you know, I’ve had discussions and arguments with him before, but they’ve all been for, you know, my kind of..”oh, fuck you, you’re wrong”, my ego..whatever it is when you discuss it with a racist grandparent. Now it’s a bit more than that. Now it’s “no, no, now I definitely need to get him to stop voting what he votes for”. Like this is not just a “ugh, it’s so annoying he’s such a cunt”, this is “oh, we need to actually start doing something. We need to actually start talking to people” So you saying that, I was like “yeah, yeah, yeah”, but a month ago, I would have been like “oh, I just don’t want them in my life”, but now it’s like “it’s okay that it’s annoying you, they’re in your life, then you just have to deal with it, because it’s more than annoying for other people, who they harm through how they vote.
Susan: The thing is to me, if you’re going to talk about..so it’s very easy to say “Donald Trump is a fool”, what’s more important is to tell an audience what Mike Pence believes in, because, in all of the saturation of the media coverage, so many people are not aware of what some of the Republican policies are. So, to understand that, means to be able to disseminate that. So instead of just standing on stage, and getting an easy laugh by saying “this guy is a fucking idiot”, if you tell people what it is, and let people know..so the best satirical comedy, and the best satirists are people that actually understand the issues from both sides, and so you can acknowledge, you know, most people in this country, I think, are centre, and can be persuaded right or left, depending on whatever, there are people to the far right, and to the far left, but most people in this country, fairly smashing people who are in the centre, who are looking for whatever issues. I don’t think the majority of people are racist, but they have concerns. Now I would quite like to understand why that happened, so I can stand on stage and say “you know when people said about benefit fraudsters, and health tourists, do you know what proportion actually happened…actually come here, and you know, are leeches?” and you can look at the rhetoric, and exactly as I was talking about, in terms of, uh, that lovely nice straight people who come to my shows don’t even know what gay conversion therapy is, or what “gay cures” are, and it is torture. But part of the most exciting thing about comedy now is thinking about these issues, and saying “why? Why is it funny?”. You know, some of the best comedy I grew up with..there was a show called Spitting Image, Sofie, and it was puppets, and on the eve of Thatcher’s, I don’t remember, second or third term they did this incredible sketch, where, you know the film Cabaret? Liza Minnelli, she’s our queen. *Sofie laughs* And there’s a song called Tomorrow Belongs To Me, and what it is, is that it starts off as a beautiful blonde haired boy standing up, and singing this gorgeous folk tale “The sun in the meadow is dah dah dah” oh, it’s lovely, then the camera pans back, and it’s the Hitler Youth, and everyone is standing, singing this Aryan song. And they did an incredible sketch where the Houses of Parliament were standing up singing Tomorrow Belongs to Me, and I’ll always remember that sketch, because it was saying, if you vote for her, this is what will happen. And it was so clever, because it wasn’t saying “Thatcher’s a bitch”, and blah blah blah. It presented it in a really intelligent, clever, beautiful way. And to me, when I watch someone like Sara Pascoe, or Bridget Christie and they blindside you..so you’re laughing along, and they go bam, and punch you in the face, metaphorically, with a point, that is the best comedy you can possibly get, for me. Some people just want to go out and hear someone telling jokes about the difference between men and women. That’s not really what I want to do in my life.
Susan: I don’t know that it’s something you want to do necessarily, either, is it?
Sofie: There was a company that wanted me to do their Christmas party, coming to see my show at the Soho Theatre, and I asked to their email address, and sent a very long email explaining what the show was, and what my audience is, and, you know, if you’re wasted, I’m not letting you in. They wrote back, very nicely and said “no, no we’re not going to be drinking, we’re going to be fine, we get it.” But I’m just not having it, but that goes a tiny bit against what you were saying about we need to talk to them, about the people who go to see your show, won’t they already be liberal? I mean, I do Brexit material, not that much, but a few Brexit lines, in my show, on tour, and I do go to small places, and afterwards, I find out how eighty or ninety per cent of them voted for Brexit, but in my head, I’m like “Yeah, but if you go to see a foreigner…fuck you”.
Susan: But you’re also Foster’s award winning Sofie Hagen.
Sofie: So I’m not just a foreigner?
Susan: You have that people may come to see you because you’ve won the major award in comedy, so people who mostly come to see me, you’ll have spotted tonnes of lezzers, tonnes of lezzers, tonnes of gay people, and some nice (BBC)Radio Four listeners, but I’ll also get, especially on tour people who are just going out because “I think I saw her on Have I Got News For You”. Um, and yes I’m Scottish, and you might expect I’m pro remain, because most of Scotland voted that, but that’s not the thought process when someone goes to a website, and goes “should we book a night out?”
Sofie: Yeah, that’s a good point.
Susan: You know they’ll go “oh, Susan Calman..I think I…yeah, I saw her on something”. So their process is not necessarily..I think London’s different.
Susan: But when you’re touring round the country, it’s a slightly different..er..process for people booking a ticket.
Susan: So what I always try and do, which is sort of….what I always and do , in my tour shows, is the first half of it is very nice. The first half of it is some nice stories about Radio Four, and, uh, my niece and nephew, and it’s lovely. Because a lot of people come to see me, and they’ve never seen stand-up before.
Susan: So I’ll be the first stand-up experience that they’ve had, and they’re terrified because they’ve heard stand-up is horrible.
Susan: And so I deliberately..I spend such a long time on the structure of my shows, first half, they go into the first interval thinking “ooh, this is good, yeah” and then in the second half, I’ll challenge them, about whatever it is I want to challenge them about, because they’re comfortable, they’re feeling happy, they know I’m not going to pick on then, they know I’m not going to make them feel terrible, but I want them to leave having made the point that I’m going to make. And so, for example, all of my Brexit stuff and feminist stuff, and misogyny stuff is in the second half of the show, so that they’re more willing to listen to that.
Susan: So, it’s not that I cop out in the first hour of the show, the first forty-five minutes, I just want them to feel safe.
Sofie: Then you reel them in.
Susan: Yeah, and then, when they leave, I’ve said what I wanted to say to them, and at the same time, I don’t go out and immediately go “right. Here’s the bloody score”. Because I think the way to persuade people is..when I did the show about equal marriage, before equal marriage was around, I did change people’s minds, because what I did was, I stood there, and I did a whole show where I was lovely, and talked about my cats..and then you say “oh, by the way, I’m not allowed to get married”. And it kind of made people go “but she’s a nice woman, what is the problem with this?” And so part of it is the structuring of the show, that’s just how I feel, other comedians do it differently, but I want people to..to go and have a conversation about it afterwards..about why is it..that there are no travel logs between two women on television? Why is it always boys that get to go away together? Why does no-one want to see you and I in a caravan, Sofie?
Sofie: I’d fucking love to see you and I in a caravan.
Susan: But do you know what I mean? Why is it always two boys travelling around the world.
Sofie: It is a very good metaphor, but also, we will pitch that tomorrow.
Susan: Oh, fuck yeah, you and me in a caravan travelling around somewhere.
Sofie: We don’t even need to travel.
Susan: No, we can just sit in a caravan. I think people would like to watch that, because our experiences will be very different from like two guys.
Sofie: My friend just got..she said to me…”I got a job on a talk show” and I said “ooh, are you gonna be the host?” And she said “no, I’m a woman”, like it was the most natural thing, she was saying “no, I’m a reporter, like a correspondent”. Oh, yeah okay, that makes a lot more sense.
Susan: Because that’s what you do, and it’s funny, because I’m recording my sitcom, for Radio Four next week, eh, and it’s me and a lovely lady called Ashley Jensen, uh, who’s quite famous.
Sofie: *laughing* Thank you for telling me.
Susan: And a man called Nick Helm, don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him.
Sofie: Nick Helm, I know Nick Helm.
Susan: He plays my boyfriend. He doesn’t know he’s my boyfriend, but he is in my head.
Sofie: Well he is in my real life as well.
Susan: And, it’s funny because I had a discussion with the producer, who’s lovely, and there was a page of the script, and he said “um, so Nick…Nick’s not got any of the jokes on this page” and I said “I know, because for a change, Nick’s the one that sets up Ashley and I”. I always make a volleyball metaphor. Women always set the ball, and men spike it. And I want to be in a situation where we get to spike it.
Susan: And I think knowing the women I know in comedy, and how brilliant they are..I find it offensive on behalf of the women that I love, that people still think..”no-one would want to see you and I traveling around the country”, of course they would, of course they would. That would be a brilliant show. You’d have to drive, you’re taller, my feet won’t reach the pedals.
Sofie: I don’t have a driver’s license.
Susan: Oh, christ..okay, we have to get another woman in to drive the van.
Sofie: How do we find a woman who drives?
Susan: They don’t drive!
Sofie: It’s going to be a disaster!
Susan: I think that will be brilliant, you and I travelling to Brexit areas, you know..
Sofie: Educating them.
Susan: Educating them, setting up a little European campervan, talking to people about what’s nice about Europe, that would be bloody amazing!
Sofie: Love that.
Susan: Because the thing is, there are quite a lot of women in this country, and, I think it’s offensive to men, that they wouldn’t want to watch us. You saw my audience tonight, plenty of blokes in the audience this evening who enjoyed it.
Sofie: Oh, yeah yeah yeah, because it’s not the audience that don’t want to see it, it’s the channels, or the producers who go *sharp intake of breath* “oh, no I don’t think that sounds..”
Susan: Do you know what the problem is? If you and I did a show, they wouldn’t know…because you and I can’t be put in a box..right?..Because neither of us necessarily do what people might expect us to do, and in fact, occasionally might be contrary..deliberately, that petrifies people.
Sofie: Oh, yeah, like dimensions, just personality…general all round personality traits.
Susan: Because you might say, I don’t know — if you’d do a show, I certainly would — if we did a studio section, I’d say “well okay, I’m not wearing a dress, necessarily, and I want to have a trouser suit on, and I want to make sure that the promos for the show concentrate on the fact that it’s two women, and I don’t want any sexy shots of us”, and they’d go “well, what are we gonna do then?”
Sofie: Was it before the show when you did your male comedian pose, on stage, when you said “I’m going to do the male comedian pose, I was like..”what?”. But then you did it, and it was like “yep, oh yeah yeah yeah, that’s the one”
Susan: When you look at the posters for the Fringe, it’s always one hand in their pocket, with a suit, with that kind of “whaaaaaaaat? What’s going on? Is that a camera?”, and women always have that delightful looking slightly off camera kind of coy, not looking straight at you, which is why my poster this year was me just looking straight ahead, it was a deliberate thing.
Sofie: Oh, I mean, I took two photos..uh, that we were discussing using, and I had the one that I loved, which was me, lots of flowers, lots of things happening, colours and everything, then I had an awkward facial expression where I looked like I’m not comfortable, which is what the show is about, me not being comfortable, and then then there’s this stunning photo, where I look sexy, and confident and there’s this glittery stuff everywhere, and I look like I run the whole world, and that’s the one that everyone loved, they’re like “oh, you look incredible in this photo!”. And I was like “yes, but it’s not me, and it’s not my show, and it’s not….it’s a lovely photo, I’ll give it to my mum for Christmas, but it’s not my poster”, and every single time that no-one has been like really on it, that’s the one I always ended up using for the posters, places, and flyers and stuff. And it’s such a..I just don’t ever want to be sexy on a poster.
Sofie: No. I do want to look into the camera, but I don’t wanna…it’s not who I am.
Susan: Okay, then let’s get serious for a second Sofie. Is that because you don’t feel sexy? Because you are. And I say that as an expert in such things. As a forty-two year old lesbian, I essentially qualified to say that you are a very sexy woman.
Sofie: Can I get that as a kind of Diploma?
Sofie: Do you carry around Diplomas?
Susan: I have been given the certificate by Clare Balding, I am allowed to say such things.
Sofie: No, I think it’s more because of my comedy, because I have a lot of paranoia about who comes to see my shows, and I don’t wanna attract an audience that wants to see a super confident, sexy lady, you know?
Sofie: I want the people who look at my face and go “she looks like she’s not having a great time, I don’t have great times either. That’s where I want to go and hang out”
Susan: That’s very interesting.
Sofie: And you know what? I think part of, uh, I think there’s kind of a response to people, people are so excited when I look good, people get very like, not shocked, buy “yay! Yay, you look good today”, in a way of…it’s like a fatness thing, they’re really excited on my behalf, when I look the most conventionally attractive. Like people get very uncomfortable when I put up photos of me like in bed, with like no makeup, looking like I just woke up, or photos where I don’t look stunning, when there’s no filter, or a certain angle. I think people get confronted with what you as a woman should be hiding, like “oh, but you can see her stomach, oh no”, so when I pose in the right way, it’s like “oh yes, we’ll use this”, because then you don’t have to face what we’ve been taught to think. I’m just saying this now, I’ve no idea if I’m right.
Susan: Do you think, I’ve often thought, and this may be wrong…if I was thinner, my career would be far better…because..like, someone came up to me after my show yesterday, and went “oh my god, you’ve lost so much weight, you look really good”, and I went “okay..the exercise I talk about in my show is actually, genuinely, purely because I’m forty-two, and I don’t want..I want to be healthy. Because on tour, I travel myself, with my suit and rucksac, and do you know what? Carrying that suitcase around the country is a fucking pain in the arse.
Susan: And I want to be fit enough to enjoy my life, and it’s funny when people say “oh, you looked so good”. And I know what they’re saying is that I don’t look as fat as I did
Susan: And I often think that if I was skinnier, I would be more, and this may be wrong, as I say, that I would be more palatable to some people.
Sofie: I may have shared this story before on the podcast, but I went..have you seen Every Brilliant Thing? The play?
Sofie: You know how he…so it’s a play where the audience interacts- *cushion-y noises*
Susan: It’s cushy, it sounds like we’re in bed together, everyone, but we’re not recording this in bed.
Sofie: We’re pitching that on the radio.
Susan: You and me in bed, in a campervan!
Sofie: Oh my god, so Every Brilliant Thing is very interactive theatre play..show, I think it’s just called a play actually in real life. And, uh, Jonny Donahoe, uh, did it in Edinburgh, probably around the country, and I went to see it, and I’m friends with him, and he wanted me to be one of the people he chooses for the interaction bit, and I didn’t know the play, I didn’t know what was gonna happen, and the first person he said for something in the play, he goes, then we had to go to the vet, and he pointed at me and goes “now you have to play the vet”, and I was so..omg it’s Jonny Donahoe, he’s kinda hot, this is amazing, and I played the vet. I did it funnily, and he was very happy with it, and I was so like “yeah! He picked me! We’re gonna get married one day, it’s gonna be brilliant!” then like fifteen, twenty minutes later, he goes “and then I saw the woman who was meant to become my wife!”, then he pointed at this gorgeous woman, like conventionally gorgeous, tall, skinny, she had this like mediterranean big black long hair, and I was just like “oh. Always the vet, never the bride”. This is fucking typical, and in my head I was just fuming, not..you know, it made sense, I get it, I get how I’m the vet. It makes sense in the world we live in, in the world we see, in every aspect of the world, it make so much sense that she’s the wife, and I’m the vet, but my god I would love to be the wife, you know?
Susan: You see, this is the source of my frustration. Because in my world, if I ever managed to get something made, you’d be the hot chick I pursued.
Sofie: Yesssss. Do you think they’d accept that? Would they want that? Because we don’t get to decide those things. If we had a camera, sure, but they’d go “*intake of breath* I was thinking more, can we go with Mrs Beautiful?”
Susan: No, because I’m the nurse. Carrie Fisher, you know Carrie Fisher?
Sofie: Is she the Star Wars..?
Susan: Princess Leia.
Susan: I love the fact our conversations always take longer, because I constantly have to say “do you know what I’m talking about?”
Sofie: It’s even worse than that, you did a joke where you said the name of someone, and I was like “ooh, who’s that?” I need to check out who that is, and I found out you were saying “Murder She Wrote”.
Susan: Murder She Wrote.
Sofie: I was like who is Merder Shirot?
Susan: Oh for god’s sake Sofie.
Sofie: Carrie Fisher, I know that one.
Susan: So, Carrie Fisher talked about how she was always up for auditions for brunette best friend, so uh, the blonde was always the girlfriend, and she was always the one who lived next door, that would come in and go *comedy sound noises*, and drop her trousers, and something like that. She was always brunette best friend. And I wrote a script called Brunette Best Friend, which was about the lives of the women who weren’t the girlfriend.
Sofie: Oh, amazing.
Susan: And about the people who lived next door, so the stereotypical, uh, side characters, what happened to them. And I still think the sexiest women, the best women I know, are not those stereotypical women. If I wrote a film, or a comedy, it would be full of the sexiest women in the world, the best women in the world, and I would probably, I hate to say I would deliberately cast people who are unexpected. Not unexpected to me, but to the people who are casting. Because why shouldn’t I — this is exactly how we started this conversation, wanting to be the ingénue — why can’t I be the one that Tom Hiddleston falls in love with? I love telling jokes, but I would also really, really like to be the sexy one that they’re fighting over. Because do you know what? We are the sexy ones. We are the sexy ones. And I think sometimes, I find it very exposing being on stage…and pretending to be confident, because I am in my shows, you know I sit backstage before the show, and I have an extreme routine, I arrive at six, I set up my props, I have a pint of Coca-Cola, and I pace for an hour. And I sit backstage, and I pace for an hour, and I go “come on Calman”. Do you know what I do? And this is a weird thing, I imagine the audience as every person at school who bullied me.
Sofie: *gasp* Really?
Susan: And say, “I am going to show you fuckers what I am now”.
Sofie: That is confidence.
Susan: That’s where I get the swagger from.
Sofie: I do the complete opposite. Like I do that if I’m on tv, they’re watching at home, I’ll show them, but in the audience, they’re all my friends, they all want the best for me, they’re all more nervous than I am, I hope they’re so nervous, then I’ll thrive, and go like “don’t worry guys, I’ll take this one, I’ll have confidence for all of us”. God no, any kind of..unless it’s reviewers, because they’re another kind of bully. I get really cocky, when I know my job is on the line in some way, if it’s a reviewer or a producer, or if anyone said to me “this is a big gig, this is really important” I get super confident because I almost want to fuck this up, I cannot care, I hate someone putting me in a position where they say “do well”, I don’t care about this gig any more.
Susan: I hate reviewers, not individually, because you’re all people, but I hate…someone who comes in called Rupert, is not going to get what I do, Sofie. You know what I mean? They’re not going to get it, they’re not going to like it. Don’t come, you won’t enjoy the show, you know? Then you’re like “oh, it’s a three star, okay, whatever, there you go”. And the one thing at the Fringe that I hate more than anything — I love the Fringe, it’s my favourite time — the one thing I hate more than anything is that process of the reviewers filing in, and then just not caring. They don’t care.
Sofie: Yeah, and I’ve seen…I’ve said no to all reviewers on my Danish tour, uh, ’cause, it’s selling out, I don’t need to, it’s a four, five day tour. I got a review last year, and it opened with “comedienne” and I was like fuck this. There’s like one reviewer in Denmark, and he’s just….like you know exactly what you need to do for him to like you, and I’m not going to even try to do that, I know what he’s going to say. So I’ve said no, which is fucking amazing, no reviewers in Denmark at all. I’ll just have other Danish Comedians judging me, and that’s harsh enough. I have, uh, I still have Keira and Franco on my hand.
Sofie: Keira is almost what we began talking about, and I don’t want you to give away anything on your show, but, you mention Keira Knightley, and I asked if it was like your celebrity crush, and I guess what you just said about why couldn’t you be, uh, why couldn’t you play…
Susan: Keira Knightley’s love interest.
Sofie: Yeah. Is she the one with..do you fantasise is too intimate of a word…is she the one you would love to go out on the red carpet with, and be like “fuck you”?
Susan: No, no. I have never been attracted to blondes. I don’t have a type..well, I do, I have always been attracted to older women. Like older wise, powerful women. I go weak at the knees for a powerful woman, like an intelligent..
Susan: Yeah, fine, I’ll do that, that’s fine, but just like, any..
Sofie: Meryl Streep?
Susan: Oh jesus yes. I love..really intelligent women. The first thing I’m interested in is can I have a discussion with you about something. There’s nothing sexier to me than just sitting down, and discussing a topic, I think that’s really sexy. It’s someone who knows…and I don’t mean educated, because it doesn’t matter to me whether someone’s gone to university, the brightest people I know haven’t been to university, I just mean someone who has an opinion about something. I hate people — not hate — I am less attracted to people who are just like “oh, whatever”, I love a good, you know…
Sofie: The question is this, like because I did a Danish event thingy, and I brought my agent, and my agent is also like a friend of mine, and he is like drop dead gorgeous, it’s insane. It’s unreal how pretty he is. So I brought him as a “hey, see what Denmark is like”, because I don’t have an agent there anymore, you might have to deal with stuff there, like, and we were at the afterparty, and he went to get drinks, and then all my other Danish comedians sat down, and they were like “well done! Wow, you just came here, you blew us all away with your boyfriend, woah, how the fuck did you do that?”. And there were two parts of me, one was like “you pieces of shit, how dare you put a value on beauty, that to me just shouts ignorance, and just shallowness, and, it’s such a horrible thing to say, fuck you for being this way” and the other part of me was like “I fucking wish he was. I wish I could be like “yeah, oh yeah, that’s my boyfriend so fuck you all””. But I’m not attracted to him, people who look like him are not who I usually go for, it’s just not my type, it’s not what I’m attracted to, but then there’s the other part, where I kind of want to be on the red carpet at the Oscars next to James Franco…which is why it’s on my hand…and just to be all “yeah” showed you!”. And then you could go inside, and go “stop talking james, you’re so annoying, please shut up, just because you’re pretty.”
Susan: The most attractive women I have ever met in my life are just…kick-ass women, I bloody love that, like, uh, Sarah Millican. Huge crush on Sarah Millican, because she’s just like kick-ass. Muriel Grey, you won’t know her, kick-ass woman, she’s a television presenter. I am so attracted to somebody who…and that’s why my wife is wonderful, she’s a litigator, she’s a lawyer, and that woman could destroy any human being with her words, she is so wonderful at an argument, which is why I never win. But I have always been most attracted to…and that’s why in comedy, I am most attracted in a comedic sense to women who say something. so , uh, I remember seeing Katherine Ryan once, you know who Katherine is, uh, aesthetically you would say she’s a gorgeous woman, and she is, but she’s also..my god that woman has a brain, and that’s what I love about Katherine Ryan, this kick-ass woman, and she is sexy as hell, because she is.
Sofie: I have a secret little crush on people where it’s hidden, when you wouldn’t expect it, and then you get blown away. The woman who runs the Comedy Store gigs in Dubai, she looks aesthetically, uh, like this classic, long hair, very open about having fake breasts, and tanned, like this gorgeous, gorgeous woman, and my brother, because he lives in Dubai, he saw her, and he said something like, uh, it wasn’t even like a bad thing, it was just something like “oh yeah, there’s a lot of people who go to Dubai to live with their husbands, and live off their salary”. Something stupid like that. And I got to say to him, “oh no, she runs a business, she’s the first female DJ to travel the world, the first DJ to play most countries, she’s in her forties, I think, and she’s the most, like, she, I don’t know if I can say this, she called the Comedy Store, and demanded more women, she was like “you better send more women to the Comedy Store in Dubai”, and she demanded that at least half of them should be women, and she added new ones as well, younger ones, not just the good old batch. Uh, “how dare you say that, how dare you. She is the coolest.”
Susan: If I could say, like, I think back at..I was really unhappy as a teenager, like desperately unhappy, and I’d been very open about the fact that I was just desperately..in my book, I talk about how I try to kill myself, and I ended up sectioned in a psychiatric hospital, and if I could tell my younger, teenage self anything, it’s that being weird is the most interesting thing in the world. Being not normal is actually what makes you the most interesting person. So now, if I’m at one of these hideous comedian celebrity events, I will look for the person..and I use weirdo in a nice sense…I’ll look for the slightly odd person who’s not surrounded by people, and I think “you’re the one I want to talk to”. The person that doesn’t turn up…you know, I go to these events, I’ve got a shitty bag over there that I haven’t washed in years, and it’s all stained and stuff like that, and that’s what I take. So I don’t have a clutch handbag, and I look for other people who have slightly crappy bags, and I go, you look like you might have something to say for yourself. I think, being strange is what makes us comedians, but also, they’re the people I want to talk to.
Susan: You become the most interesting people. So I do a lot of children’s BBC. I do a quiz show called Top Class, and I love it, because it’s about saying to kids that being bright is cool.
Susan: And I see these kids, and I can see the ones that people think are weird, and I always go up to them, and say you are going to be alright. You just need to get through this next bit, this really awful bit, where people will judge you because you’re not the pretty one, and I’ll tell you what, you are going to be fine, because if you’re a little bit strange, as people see them, not as I see them, you’re the interesting one. You’re the one that’s going to have friends, if you let that happen, and I think sometimes there’s that difficulty sometimes between isolation if you don’t feel you fit in, and reaching out to people, and finding..I think it’s easier in London, my worry is…there’s lots of stuff here, you can go to a knitting night or a craft night, or whatever you want, I think when I travel to Inverness, or I travel to smaller parts of Yorkshire, I think…they’re the ones I love coming to, I don’t know if you’re the same, but you see them in the audience, and you’re thinking, this is your night out.
Susan: This is your thing. Maybe you’ll meet some other people at this gig, and we’ll have a community of people who feel like they don’t fit in.
Sofie: Yeah, that’s my people, because I didn’t have..I didn’t have anyone like that when I grew up. I don’t remember..I remember …I would always identify with the smaller characters on sitcoms, so I would watch the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and be like “I’m such a Geoffrey” “I’m such a…” I’m the person that I only see in two episodes, and think that’s good, that person is in it, but I would never..stand-up didn’t speak to me as in..they didn’t..it wasn’t for me, it was for the other boys, there was nothing…you know, they’d talk about me. I think that’s one of the worst things about stand-up is that you..one thing is when stand-up becomes derogatory about someone, they’ll say fat people are like this, or women are like this. It’s only the second worst thing, is that they’re saying something bad about you, the worst thing is that you’re in the audience, and they’re not acknowledge that you’re there. They’re not going “hey, you fat people, you’re like this”, they go “you know those fat people, who are not here?” that’s the worst thing about it, it’s very easy feeling excluded if you’re not, like, one of the cool kids, because it’s the cool kids that are on TV all the time.
Susan: I think the worst thing, the thing I think is the worst about stand-up is that I don’t feel like I’m one of the cool kids.
Sofie: Within stand-up?
Sofie: Like within..in terms of friendships between comedians, or in the industry, or..?
Susan: In terms of industry, and in terms of other comedians.
Sofie: Who are the cool kids? I didn’t even know there were cool kids
Susan: I always think it’s like when you go to the Fringe… and I mean it’s partly me as in I don’t like going out, you know, I do my show and I go back to the flat or whatever, but I sometimes, it’s what I say in the show, part of what I’m saying about not being a dangerous comedian is me saying I’m not one of those ones that you think is one of those cool, amazing life changing comedians. And sometimes when I go to the Fringe, I feel like I’m invisible, because I’m not one of those…I’m certainly not cool on television, which is okay, but I also feel that who I am as a comedian is not one of those cool ones. So when I come to the Soho Theatre, lots of other people don’t Tweet “oh, great, Susan’s at the Soho Theatre!”
Susan: You see, other people go “oh my god, such and such is the Soho Theatre!”
Sofie: Right, I don’t think that’s a success thing…I don’t think that’s a cool thing, I think that’s a success thing. Like, people like an underdog, and they’ll Tweet about someone if either they feel like they’ve discovered them, and no one else knows yet, so you know, they’ll Tweet about Michael Mittermeier, and they’ll be like “oh, you don’t know him? He fills up stages in Germany, and you don’t know him, you loser”. They’ll Tweet about Kim Noble, and be like “you don’t know Kim Noble because he’s not on TV, here’s Kim Noble.”. They won’t tweet about someone successful, because what does that give them? Or they’ll tweet about people that are having a really tough time.
Susan: It’s the one thing in my life, whenever I feel bad..I’m taken back to being at school again. Whenever I feel bad about anything it always takes me back to being at school again. And it’s the psychological time in my life where I felt most vulnerable, and most awful, and so whenever anything happens, and at school I feel *fades out, and MoHPOD music fades in*.
Sofie: That was part one of the Susan Calman two parter special, we weren’t meant to record for two hours, but we did, and the next bit will come out next week, she’s an amazing person, and I’m sorry to leave you on I guess like a cliffhanger, but, yeah, uh, thank you so much for listening. I don’t wanna…it doesn’t feel like in the spirit of things to start asking for things from you, uh, but I’m also a starving comedian at the moment, so please see me on tour, I still have a few tour dates left, um, I should have definitely looked this up before I started recording this, but there’s no retakes. So I’m going to Lincoln, uh, tomorrow, Thursday 17th November (2016), I’m also going to Ailesbury, Bristol, Brighton, Guilford, Liverpool, Maidenhead, and Oxford, a lot of these are sold out, but do go and see if there are tickets left. Then I will be at the Soho Theatre in London from the Fifth of December to the Seventeenth of December, so, please come and see that, there’s a discount code that I’m not allowed to give to that many people, its shimmer16, please use it, I don’t give a shit about how many people I can give it to, to be frank, because tickets are £16 which is way too much, and uh, so use that, shimmer16, it takes £2 off, so it’s only £14, and I want..trust me, if you’re listening to this, you are the person I want in my audience more than anything, so please come and see that, I’m in Denmark touring in February, I’m going to all the four cities in Denmark, you know, the only four towns we have, Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense, and Aalborg. And then of course if you wanna join Patreon, it’s Patreon.com/mohpod and you can just donate to give money, but I am not pushing you, um, I, uh, it’s a thing that helps, like tonight, I interviewed Susan until midnight, so that helps that I can take a night off to go see her show and go interview her, instead of having to go and do a gig, and be paid £30 on a Wednesday. I’ll let you go. Next wednesday, I will be in Denmark next week for a bit, but I will try and get it out, so, um yeah, next wednesday, thank you for listening, I’m gonna go now, because, uh, my housemates are probably definitely sleeping now, so goodnight, or good morning if that’s the time where you are, but I’m gonna say goodnight, and now I’m gonna edit this all together into a podcast, thank you so much for listening. Goodnight.
Transcript by: Asher Gough