Very few comics look more like they’ve just wandered in off the street for a chat than Susan Riddell. Most have some kind of a cultivated persona, or at least a heightened version of themselves they present to a crowd. Not Riddell. Her concession to glitz this evening is that she’s worn jeans. In fact, it’s only because she had a show to do that she left the house.
One of her main strengths is this no-fripperies, what-you-see-is-what-you-get stage presence which seems to be common to the Glaswegian mindset. Like fellow Weegie Janey Godley, Riddell comes across as purely and authentically herself and with the same inherent warmth. She may claim, however, that this lack of a showbiz side is down to the laziness that’s central to her show’s theme.
Her other main strength is that she’s naturally funny. Duvet Day contains a few routines that will be familiar to those that have seen her perform club slots over the last year, and it’s gratifying to see how they’ve been honed and revised while still giving the impression of being off-the-cuff. Shorn of a big message or any outlandish presentation, her jokes very much stand up on their own terms. Particularly good are her musings on the lucky dip mysteries of the Marks & Spencer dine-in-for-two deal and sex dolls with washable parts.
On the down side, her initial crowd work seems to hinder her slightly. The discovery of a couple from France and Russia in the front row triggers frequent pauses to explain some of the terms in her cultural lexicon. These occasionally interrupt the flow and the couple don’t appear any less baffled, although pleasantly so. This tendency also creeps into her more universal material, as if there are a few seeds of doubt planted that cause a little bit of hesitancy every now and then. She soon overcomes these little blips though, and her natural charm and likeability means everyone is onside throughout.
Duvet Day is still rough around the edges but is in no way a disappointing hour; it’s just that there have been some preternaturally accomplished debuts over the last few years. You also suspect that to craft a show that’s overly slick would be antithetical to Susan Riddell’s conversational, relaxed approach. She certainly hasn’t over-reached herself stepping up to the full 60 minutes and you can expect her to saunter into brilliance over the next years. She has that rare ability to look effortless and to spin golden material from standard subject matter. Bring on next year.