The Scotsman Sessions #114: Susan Riddell

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, comedian Susan Riddell tries her hand at being a beauty vlogger

Lockdown has meant unemployed comedians have had to diversify. But for Susan Riddell, the opportunity to become a beauty vlogger for the Scotsman Sessions is actually a fantasy realised.

The Glaswegian has struggled with performing online, “because it just felt wrong doing stand-up to a camera”.

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But the former beauty therapist is now combining her expertise with her delivery and stagecraft for this make-up tutorial, making a mockery of the suggestion that “I've missed the boat because I'm too old.

Susan Riddell

“I've been asked to do a few stand-up things and I just cannae” she admits. “It's too cringey for me. I'm not into these socially distanced gigs either. So when I got asked to do this I was like, 'right, what can I do that's not going to make me want to die inside?'

“I've watched loads of make-up vloggers over the years. And in lockdown, everyone just wants to watch things that comfort you. So I just thought I'd have a go at it, it looks fun. And it was! Influencers get blamed for so much to do with young girls' body image. But if you actually watch the videos, they often start out without make-up, they're not projecting this perfect ideal.

“Unfortunately, there are probably even more make-up vloggers than comedians now. And that's saying something. So I've missed my chance. It's fine, I'll stick to comedy.”

Riddell was developing her first comedy play for the Edinburgh Fringe when coronavirus struck. A double-hander with her regular collaborator Rachel Jackson, about “two lassies waiting in for their Chinese takeaway, sort of trapped in their flat like Waiting For Godot”, the premise has been somewhat usurped by the pandemic.

No matter though, as the pair, who appeared in BBC Scotland comedies The State of It and The Comedy Underground, are currently making three shorts for the iPlayer, with a view to developing their own sitcom.

And former newspaper columnist Riddell is also preparing to write her debut novel.

“I share a dog with my ex-partner and I think it's a really unique situation. Everyone tells me it's mental but I think it's just a really funny situation. So I'm going to write something light-hearted about that.”

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