New baby. Spiking anxiety. The state of the world. You can see how the component parts of Suzi Ruffell’s touring show could cohere into a potent snapshot of the 36-year-old’s life right now. But Snappy isn’t as focused as that. There is material about new parenthood, about her intensifying worries, and about the imbecilic state of the national discourse – but Ruffell takes each subject so far and no further, and doesn’t join the dots between them. We’re left with an entertaining set that feels a draft short of its full potential, and that consolidates but makes no great leap forward from the likable comic’s previous work.
Moment by moment, it’s good fun, as self-mocking Suzi packages up her dopiness for our delight. She introduces herself as a bag of nerves, unburdening her anxieties on her wife as she once did with her childhood “worry doll” (a prop she deploys amusingly for the rest of the show). Elsewhere, she plays hapless mum to a bossy toddler, or terminally uncool dork tongue-tied at meeting her celeb heroes. This may all be true – but sometimes the ingratiation comes at the expense of authenticity. How Ruffell presents herself can feel awkwardly suspended between real-life Suzi and a cartoon version of same.
You might expect the heart of the show to be its account of new motherhood, as the Portsmouth native introduces us to her mouthy new tot with (as performed by her mum) a who-knows-why Italian accent and an unhealthy interest in cats’ bums. But Ruffell doesn’t dig deep into her parenting experience, swerving instead into a section on her own mum and dad’s eccentricities. Her social commentary is likewise fairly generic. She couldn’t be more right about idiots being given too much airtime these days – but the joke she uses to illustrate the point, about Michael Gove and experts, is an overused one.
These foibles are easy to forgive, mind you – because Ruffell is good company, cheerfully goofing around for our entertainment. And if the goofball behaviour now and then seems too conspicuously for show – well, it’s a show that Ruffell pulls off with craft and charm.