Ciaran Sneddon

"I don’t like comedians who tell jokes" – We meet Susan Calman

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Susan Calman

It’s a rare thing for a comedian to admit to not liking jokes, but that’s exactly what Susan Calman is saying to me as we chatted before her gig in Newcastle earlier this month.

“I tell stories. I’m a traditional observational comic and I like people that do that,” Susan explains. “I don’t really like comedians who tell jokes. That’s a great headline for your article, isn’t it? A comedian who doesn’t like or know any jokes.

“All I’m going to say is, go somewhere like this [The Stand Comedy Club] and see comedians live. People are great on telly, but you have to come here to really see them.”

The Scottish comedian has sold out The Stand, one of the many stops on her latest tour Lady Like. Known to some as the regular guest of BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz, and to others for her appearances on Mock The Week and Have I Got News For You, she comments that nowhere else would so many Radio 4 listeners share the audience with the mix of locals who turn up.

Despite her fan base knowing her for topical comedy, Lady Like has allowed Susan to venture in to personal stuff, talking about her wife, family and relationships.

“The topical shows are very exciting, because you’re working right up until the point at which you go on. You’ll probably never use it again because, unless it’s a big long running story, then you’ll never talk about it again. It’s an immediate thing. I wrote this show over two years, so it’s lovely to see the stuff you’ve been thinking about finally working in front of an audience, and seeing people leaving happier than they came in which I think it’s all about.”

The show is very personal to Susan, particularly in the second half, where she delves into some material that must be exceptionally close to her heart. However, despite tackling issues such as mental health, internet trolling and self-doubt, she masterfully keeps the atmosphere up, which is perhaps due to her hysterically funny opening act.

Taking the decision not to have a warm up act allows the audience to connect with Calman before she throws the big issues at them, which works to great effect. With around 90 minutes of stand-up, Calman offers a lot of value to her audience, and she went down extremely well with the crowd.

Calman is a performer who is sure to continue on her rapid rise to success, having already built up a strong fan base of radio listeners and ever expanding support from comedy fans across the UK. The tour of England will continue until the end of this year, before she begins the next stage of touring across Wales, Ireland and her home nation of Scotland.