“There’s some funny stuff too” – Susie Youssef on loneliness, anxiety, and, of course, comedy.
Susie Youssef is a little anxious. She’s also very funny. Known for her sketch comedy, Susie can frequently be spotted on the ABC, and at various Sydney venues and boating houses. Over the next month and a half, though, she can be found down in Melbourne, performing her show Check Youssef Before You Wreck Youssef as a part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Susie kindly answered a few of our questions about loneliness, anxiety, and, of course, comedy.
You’ve got a range of comedic experience, in both styles and different media – what was the scariest performance you’ve ever done?
My first ever paid stand up gig at the Manly Boatshed in Sydney was terrifying. I vomited in the toilets beforehand. And afterwards. And nearly during. I think it went well. But the scariest was when I performed at an 18th birthday party where the birthday girl didn’t know that her parents had hired a troupe of improvisers. The girl was horrified and left the room crying about 2 minutes after we got on stage. Memories.
Your previous two shows dealt a little bit with loneliness and self-doubt. Any particularly heavy themes we should expect in Check Youssef?
Anxiety makes an appearance in this show and I’ve added shame for good measure but loneliness and self-doubt still get a run – after all, they are the classics. There’s some funny stuff too.
Mostly you’re hailed as a master of sketch, and usually your live shows are a combination of sketch and stand up. Is there a kind of comedy that you’re not comfortable with? Why?
A sketch can kill one night and die the next. The good thing is you don’t have to be totally comfortable to enjoy it and I don’t want to be complacent so discomfort keeps me working at it. I’m not totally comfortable with any type of comedy but I still love it.
You’ve been involved in a bunch of different television and radio projects, from The Checkout to How Not to Behave. If you could make a television or radio show, what would it be about?
It would be a TV series about a beautiful girl in her early 30’s who travels the world learning how to dance and eating all the doughnuts. In all seriousness I would love to travel to Lebanon and write a TV show about it because I’ve never been before and I want those sweet TV dollars to pay for that trip.
What was it like studying at iO Theatre?
It was awful. Everyone was really encouraging and inspiring, it really shook me up. I felt like I could do anything when I left Chicago and that’s just dangerous. I would never have started performing solo without the support of my teachers and mates from iO – I blame them. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
What’re the major differences between the Sydney and Melbourne comedy scenes?
The major difference is location.
As a Sydneysider, what’s the quickest way to feel at home in Melbourne?
Drink coffee at Dukes – I spent so much time there last year it feels like home. Or head out of the city and hang out with my friends and their poodle, Delores.
Your show title is a wonderful pun. If you had to pick show at MICF this year to see based solely on the title, what would it be?
Nazeem Hussain in Hussain in the Membrane. It’s no Check Youssef Before You Wreck Youssef but still…
What shows are you going to go and see not just because of the title?
I saw Felicity Ward in Edinburgh and Steen Raskopoulos in Sydney and will definitely see both again – they’re brilliant. Can’t wait to see Guy Montomery and Rose Matafeo in their new shows. So many I want to see! Rhys Nicholson, Mae Martin, Celia Pacquola, Sara Pascoe, Joel Dommett, Mark Forward and some kid called Ronny Chieng.