Interview: comediennes Zoe Lyons, Suzi Ruffell and Jen Brister

If you like to laugh, and let’s face it, who doesn’t, get out your diaries and pencil in the night of Thursday 24th November. The stunningly funny Zoe Lyons, Suzi Ruffell and Jen Brister will be performing as a hilarious comedy trio at Oxford’s Glee Club, showcasing their Stand Out Tour here for one night only – you do not want to miss it.

When I ask how they feel about touring together, they all agree that it’s going to be a lot of fun. “As a comedian you spend a lot of time alone, travelling to gigs,” Zoe, who you may know from Mock The Week, begins. “To have company is a real treat.”

Asking how their material occurs to them, Suzi, who was nominated for the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year 2011, answers, “Usually the stupid situations I get myself into.”

Jen, whose hilarious online blog reveals her flare for writing, tells me that she just listens to her mum and records everything she says. “It seems to have worked so far!”

“I never switch off from comedy, which I think must be really annoying for anyone who hangs around with me,” Suzi admits, when I ask if their material extends beyond being in front of an audience.

Jen concludes, “I’m not keen on talking about what I do, because inevitably people say, ‘Go on, tell us a joke!’ To which my response is, ‘What do you do? You’re an accountant? How about I tell you a joke and you can do my tax return?’”

I wonder aloud if they think there is anything off limits when it comes to comedy. Suzi replies instantly. “No. I wrote a joke about my Nan’s funeral a week after she died. I think she would have liked it.”

“If a comedian is going to do material about sensitive topics, it has to be bloody good,” Zoe affirms. “The shock value alone is not enough. It has to be original and funny.”

It must be difficult not to steal other comic’s material, so I ask them all if they draw inspiration from other comedians.

“I started doing stand up because I loved watching women being funny on stage,” Jen confesses. “It takes at least ten years to find your voice. It helps to stay focused on what you’re doing; try not to compare yourself to anyone else. That’s a genuinely serious answer. Please don’t expect many more of those.”

I tentatively ask them whether they have ever told a joke on stage that nobody laughed at. “Absolutely not, and I am offended that you should even imply such a thing!” Jen jokes, before telling me that truthfully all comedians have “died” on stage.

“It’s always good to try out new material at little nights where there is less pressure,” Zoe advises. “That way at least if it dies a horrible death there were fewer there to witness its demise.”

That seems like good advice! But do they have any solid advice to budding young comedians?

“It’s strange to give advice as I feel new myself still,” Suzi says. “But it would be just to gig, gig, gig, gig, sleep, eat, gig, gig.”

“There are no shortcuts,” Jen pronounces. “It’s not like X Factor, you have to do your time.”

Zoe ends the question by predicting, “At some point in your early career you will die horribly on stage,” – at this I have a fleeting image of Tommy Cooper’s feet sticking out from beneath his stage curtain – “and it will feel like the end of the world to you. Trust me, it is not.”

Reassuringly, these women know what they’re talking about. Returning to their joint show, I ask them why people should come and see their Live Tour this November.

“For a start, November is dark and miserable, so you will be doing yourself a favour just getting out of the house,” Zoe begins reasonably. “The Glee is a cracking venue, and we are three performers with different styles so it is a smorgasbord for comedy tastes.”

“Plus Suzi has promised to try pole dancing and Zoe will be doing something odd with a candle and some marbles,” Jen chips in mischievously.

I finally ask them what the best thing about being a comedian is. Zoe claims it’s the travel opportunities, whilst Suzi decides it is “having a career that is basically messing about!” Jen tells me it’s got to be, “Ginsters pasties, the occasional free drink…oh yeah, and making people laugh.”

All three of them are sure to do just that all night long at the Glee Club. With three different voices, three separate performances and these three wonderful women all guaranteed to be side-stitchingly hilarious, you’d be sorry if you missed the opportunity to see them live. So what are you waiting for? Go and laugh your socks off.

[Photo: Diamond Geyser]