Interview: Isy Suttie – ‘This isn’t a book about me going about leaving my knickers on rugby posts’

Interview: Isy Suttie – ‘This isn’t a book about me going about leaving my knickers on rugby posts’

credit: Idil Sukan

The popular musical comedian and Peep Show star discusses the perils of her mum handling her internet dating profile

‘I do talk about sex. I mean it’s not Jordan’s autobiography or anything, but if I thought it would be good for the reader to know something then I’d put it in. And the best bit, of course, is you can’t see people’s faces when they’re reading it.’

When it comes to getting down and dirty, Isy Suttie aka Matlock’s finest musical comedian has always come across as more Victoria Wood than Victoria’s Secrets. But in her just-published memoir, The Actual One, there are tales of an Australian fuck buddy, running naked into a freezing sea at New Year and various fumblings around the internet dating game. That avenue for seeking love and lust is perhaps not helped by the fact that Isy’s mum insisted on compiling and updating her daughter’s profile.

‘She started choosing guys and logging in as me,’ states Suttie with a barely disguised mix of horror and humour. ‘It culminated in a bet where if I didn’t end up with a boyfriend in a month I’d go on a date with someone that she’d chosen. She really got into it. I talk a lot in the book about the nature of relationships according to my experience and the fact that I know more unhappy people who are in relationships than aren’t. This isn’t a book that’s the equivalent of a romcom where I’m all Bridget Jonesy and eventually find someone to live happily ever after with. And nor is it me going about leaving my knickers on rugby posts. It’s quite an honest account of me bumbling through life trying to make the best of things.’

When she came to deciding how she wanted to structure The Actual One (whose working title was Glass Half Full), Suttie took a degree of inspiration from Lena Dunham, the creator of US hit comedy-drama Girls and author of Not that Kind of Girl. ‘Her book is written in essay form where there’s no narrative per se or even a thread running through it; it’s just chapters about different periods of her life and that works brilliantly. I’d toyed with doing my book that way but it felt that the right thing was to write about a concentrated period of time.’

While The Actual One tour is more akin to a series of book events with stand-up bits included, Suttie isn’t leaving the live comedy world behind. And that’s good news for anyone who enjoyed her Edinburgh Fringe shows such as Love Lost in the British Retail Industry, Pearl and Dave and the seemingly de rigueur pun-on-your-own-name show title, The Suttie Show. ‘When I was growing up, I always wanted to be an actress and musician. I never thought I’d go into comedy though I was always larking about and playing the fool at school. I used to write these serious songs and, around 18, really thought I could be a folk singer and an actress. I just knew that I’d want to tell stories in my songs.’

TV has also come a-calling for Suttie with appearances opposite Alan Davies in BBC’s kitchen drama Whites, as a regular character in Shameless’ 11th season and, in arguably her biggest coup, a recurring role across several seasons as Dobby in Peep Show. With that series ending last year, it was the right moment for Suttie to reflect on being part of one of Britain’s most critically adored sitcoms in recent times. ‘When I got on Peep Show I didn’t fully realise how big it was. I remember being nervous for the whole of that first series I was in because it felt like a big jump for me.’

Isy Suttie’s The Actual One book tour runs until Tuesday 15 March

Isy Suttie: The Actual One

The Actual One is a show about that late-20s realisation that everyone's growing up without you and what you should do about it from the award-winning actress and comedian.