Sue Perkins

Sue Perkins

Date of birth: 22-11-1969
In the autumn of 1988, Sue Perkins, a student at New College, Cambridge University, got onto a stage for her first ever stand up routine. She was interrupted by a girl called Mel Giedroyc, marking the the start of a double act that would last 17 years.

Sue became president of the Cambridge Footlights in 1990, taking over from Henry Naylor, and in 1993 was shortlisted (with Mel) for the Daily Express Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Festival.

After a few years writing for French & Saunders they hosted a lunchtime show on Channel 4 called Light Lunch, and an teatime version, Late Lunch, as well as breakfast show RI:SE

On her own, Perkins appeared in Celebrity Big Brother in 2002 on Have I Got News For You, Room 101, Celebrity Weakest Link, Question Time and Newsnight on TV; and The News Quiz and Just A Minute on Radio 4. She also chaired the Radio 4 panel game 99p Challenge.

In 2005, she premiered her first one woman show at the Edinburgh Fringe, which then toured the county.

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© Steve Ullathorne

Sue Perkins: Spectacle Wearer Of The Year 2006

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

The most obvious question on seeing Sue Perkins name in the Fringe programme is: why? She’s already had the TV series – and with radio’s 99p Challenge proved her natural wit, even when sidekick Mel is away on maternal duties.

Perhaps the answer lies in her confession that her earnings plummeted 65 per cent in the year after she came out as a lesbian. Or perhaps that for all the broadcasting experience in the world, on the live stage, even such a comparatively small one as Pleasance Upstairs, is the only place to really test your mettle.

It’s a test she passes easily – if not with flying colours, then at least by enough to get through her comedian’s MoT at her first attempt as a solo stand-up. Even her self-proclaimed standing as ‘Croydon’s seventh-funniest brunette’ could rise soon.

Perkins isn’t really one for the jokes, instead she just likes to chat about everyday observations – and the conversation is most definitely one-way. A trip to London’s Imperial War Museum, for instance, offers enough material for ten minutes or so of witty commentary.

Other themes include the inanity of warning notice on movie posters, the ridiculous claims of the cosmetics industry or the folly of choosing London as the 2012 Olympic host. All straightforward stuff, and 24 hours later, you might be hard-pressed to remember much of it, but with Sue it’s more about going along for a jolly ride.

She’s an engaging, wryly self-deprecating raconteur with a light but sure touch. Behind the conversational style, she’s a literate writer, with elegant words, phrases and metaphors all lining up in neat procession. Take just one typical throwaway line, when she calls tuna ‘brainless blocks of protein that float towards canning factories’ – it might be only mildly amusing, but it’s a taut, efficient and very descriptive phrase.

A couple of clumsy callbacks put slight dents this slickness, but aside from that there’s an air of professionalism that pervades every aspect of her show. Never once do you feel as if you’re not in a safe pair of hands – even if you’re equally unlikely to think you’re in the presence of the next all-conquering comedy genius.

But ‘reliably amusing’ is still a surprisingly scarce attribute in comedy, so it’s still worth celebrating.

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Published: 1 Aug 2006

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