Susan Calman is a face you will almost certainly recognise from various panel shows including Have I Got News For You and Mock The Week, as well as being a Radio 4 regular. A self-confessed cat-lover, Calman is unafraid to turn the mockery in her own direction, making her comedy all the more open and silly, but with a sharp wit driving it. Susan Calman is performing her show The Calman Before The Storm at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.
To learn more about the woman behind Susan’s, I asked her these seven questions…
1) Where is your favourite place in Scotland?
Glasgow. It’s my home town and I adore every part of the city. If I was to be more specific I’d say my favourite place was on my sofa, in Glasgow. That’s my favourite place in the world.
2) Do you think the Edinburgh Festival is still beneficial for new comedians?
Absolutely. The key to the Fringe is to have realistic expectations of what you’ll get from it. When it comes to becoming a better comedian there’s no substitute for gigging and the Fringe offers a fantastic opportunity to grab as much stage time as possible. In addition it can help with mental toughness. If you have a gig from hell you need to get over it and get right back on stage again. The Fringe doesn’t need to cost the earth, you don’t need a big agent to perform there and you can make it what you want it to be. If you go and expect to be discovered and become a big star, think again. It’s an opportunity to work hard, make contacts and friends, and learn from others. I still believe that it’s the best festival in the world.
3) Are you a leader or a follower?
I would say a leader. Mainly because I’m a bit of a control freak, and I like things to be done perfectly. I am also happy to follow the right person, and like to think I have an open mind to others ideas. As long as I agree with those ideas.
4) What do you avoid?
I avoid anything that frightens me. To be fair that list is very long as I hate flying, raisins, rollercoasters, lifts, loud noises, the dark etc etc. I also try to avoid confrontation in my life. Negativity is a destructive force which sucks all the joy out of living. I save my anger for those who truly deserve it and ignore the insignificant irritants.
5) What would improve your life right now?
Being at home more often. At the moment, with previews and other work, I’m in London for most of the week and only home at the weekend. I miss the normality of being at home sometimes, although travel is just part and parcel of the job.
6) What makes someone a hero in your eyes?
I admire people who stand up for what they believe in despite pressure from others. I also think that kindness is a much under rated quality, and hypocrisy the worst possible trait in a human being. I’m old fashioned I suppose, being honest and straightforward is the best quality in the world.
7) What made you love stand-up comedy?
I’ve loved stand up since I saw An Audience with Victoria Wood in the 1980’s. I knew every single word of that show and wanted, so much, to be just like her. The other great influence was a Billy Connolly tape I used to play on my Walkman. I used to listen to it again and again, in fact there was a time when I had to switch it off because I was laughing so much on the train that it looked like I was in pain.