Best known as Dobby from Peep Show, Isy Suttie is leaving the geek behind as she heads for the Fringe, writes Jonathan Trew
IT IS not the most flattering of introductions but comic Isy Suttie is probably best known for her role as Dobby, the cheese-obsessed IT geek and object of lust for Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell) in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show. Despite being a dedicated nerd and keen fantasy roleplaying fan, Dobby is not without her admirers. Memorably, Corrigan mutters that every time he sees her, he wants to "chew on her weird hair".
Back in what passes for real life, at least on the internet, a growing legion of Dobby fans annotate her Peep Show YouTube clips with rather more involved wishes. Some of the clips have prompted a distasteful new phrase to be coined: "getting a Dobby". Most of the comments seem to be written by people – oh, all right, boys – who can probably recite the rules of World Of Warcraft backwards but would run if ever confronted with a real live girl. Suttie – her name is pronounced "Sooty" – takes it all in her stride.
"I like the idea that people have photos of me dressed as a wizard on their computers," she says dryly. "I don't think there are enough pin-ups for the IT workers of this world, so I am glad to have become that."
Cyber-fame is one thing. People in the street who confuse Suttie with her character is quite another. "I do get recognised a bit since I started doing Peep Show," she says. "It's usually when I am picking my nose or am on the Tube absolutely hammered. Most people are lovely, though."
Before her part in Peep Show boosted her profile, Suttie spent a number of years on the comedy circuit earning her spurs. She had trained to be an actor at the Guildford School of Acting but, for a long time, was unsure whether to pursue a career on the stage or in music. Her mother had bought her a battered guitar when she was a child, which Suttie had used in ill-fated attempts as a musical matchmaker at primary school in Matlock, Derbyshire. "My mates would tell me which lad they fancied and then give me some facts about him which I would use to write a love song. I would record that on to a cassette, my friend would give it to the lad in question and he would say no. That was when I was about 12."
Although Suttie went on to win songwriting competitions, jazz awards and even had one of her musical scores performed at a London theatre, some of her other, later forays into music were as poorly received as her earlier love songs.
"I used to go around open-mic nights but all my songs were a bit weird and people just didn't understand them," she explains. "I had a song about a businessman who would go to bed with a fry-up. It wasn't sexual but, because he was lonely, he would smear beans and black pudding on himself and cuddle sausages. People just didn't seem to get it."
Last year, Suttie brought her first full-length solo show to the Fringe. Called Love Lost In The British Retail Industry, it was a wry tale of Lisa, a simple checkout girl who lost her heart to Carl, a dim vegan working in the butchery section. It was a touching and occasionally grotesque story of small-town lives and loves.
"The story had to be something that people could identify with, and most people have had a date go wrong. I haven't been on an unhappy date with a butcher but I did have one date where I threw up in my shoe. We were on the bus at the time. The gentleman I was with very kindly took the shoe from me and held it for the rest of the painfully silent journey home."
This year, Suttie has come to Edinburgh with The Suttie Show. It has more stand-up than last year's narrative-driven piece but there are still four characters involved, all played by Suttie. Among the cast is Yvonne Winehouse, cousin of the more famous Winehouse and a woman who strongly disapproves of Amy's wild ways. Yvonne has ambitions to be a musical health and safety officer. Others include a hairdresser who wants to swap her curling tongs for a singing career, and 12-year-old Ben, who has his routine for Britain's Got Talent worked out down to his last twirl.
"It's about dreams, and specifically the dreams of what you wanted to do when you were a kid versus the constrictions of adulthood," says Suttie.
"In the beginning I tried to do satire, but quickly realised that I didn't know anything about politics. It was really only through trial and error that I became more myself on stage. I am quite positive and happy, and that comes across when I've got a microphone in front of me."
• The Suttie Show, The Pleasance Courtyard (0131-556 6550), until August 25 (not 12), 4pm
• www.myspace. com/isysuttie