Talent On Tap – Sophie Buddle – Get Ready to LYAO

It feels so good to have a good laugh, especially when your day has been a nightmare of stress and office politics. When you laugh, it can release so much positive energy that you quickly forget about work or negative distractions. The endorphins flow like Niagara Falls and the elevator is yours for the day. I thank my lucky stars for great comedians and the world would be such an empty sad place without them. They are unsung heroes of our society and deserve the praise, the applause and the thanks.

One such comedian carving her way to your funny bone is Sophie Buddle.  She is a writer for This Hour Has 22 Minutes and is the winner of the Dirty Joke Award two years in a row. Yes, I said dirty. I’ve watched her standup and it is off the charts. It’s not for kids, but most comics aren’t. There’s nothing more satisfying in my mind than going to a comedy club and having somebody bring up taboo subjects with a twist. 

In saying that, I present to you the very naughty and sophisticated Sophie Buddle.


“You started doing stand-up at age 15 while still in high school. Is it safe to assume that you were the class clown?”

“It would be if I had better attendance but I didn’t go to school very often. When I did go I’d try not to draw too much attention to myself because of my regularity in absences but I did try to make my friends laugh. I do remember the class clown and I think he’s a real-estate agent now.”


“What was the compulsion to become a comedian?”

“I always knew I wanted to do something extroverted. I had been doing a lot of acting when I was younger and was on the improv team but neither of those felt fulfilling enough. I do like acting and do like improv but the process of writing your own script is what’s most appealing to me. It’s not so much about memorization but it’s more about the purpose of what you have to say before going out on stage. I have so much respect for people that do improv because if I had nothing prepared I’d have nothing to say.” 


“Would you say that your mom helped you to find your calling when she brought you to your first comedy show at 15?”

“Yes, it was called Absolute Comedy in Ottawa. It’s a fun hangout and we always went on amateur night. It made standup seem a little less intimidating. It was inspiring and I struggle with activities that are boring but everything about comedy is fun.”


“You won the best Dirty Joke Award at the Vancouver Comedy Awards. How long would it take to write a dirty joke worthy of taking the prize?”

“It just flew out of me. All I know is dirty jokes. I won it 2 years in a row and I have one ready for next year too. At times I’ve felt discriminated against as a female comic but most times I’ve felt discriminated against as a dirty comic. In order to book festivals, writing gigs and CBC work you have to show that you can work clean. It’s a bit of a struggle for me, especially when I’m told to work clean; all I can think about is dirty stuff. It’s more of an issue than a skill.”


“When you’re on stage doing comedy, is there anything off limits?”

“I think nothing is off limits if it’s done the right way. People say there’s no such thing as a funny rape joke. If you’re talking about the ‘Me too’ movement then that could be something very topical and positive. I think punching down is bad, which is making fun of someone that is already the victim. I think there’s a way to talk about every issue that’s appropriate. It’s much easier for people to absorb information and new ideas if they’re laughing. If you have something to say about a topic that’s tricky you should do it. It is the mentality of many comedians to say it’s never too soon, never too dark and comedians will often complain that other people take things too seriously and are too sensitive. It’s the comedians that are too sensitive about what they can make jokes about. I think both sides are right. If you’re upset about someone making jokes about someone that just died then it’s your right to be upset. I think if comedians dedicated themselves to making jokes on hard issues and someone tells them not to then they also have a right to be upset. I don’t think feelings are ever wrong.”    


“How would you best describe your style of comedy?”

“It’s definitely evolving. I used to be more of a one liner comic with dirty content but I’ve evolved into more confrontational comedy now. I’m also more political now as I get older and have more of an interest in politics. I think my comedy is revolves around what I’m interested in at that point of my life. When your set is 25 minutes long you’re revealing a lot of yourself and nobody is 100 percent political or 100 percent silly. I think my comedy is very representative of all of me and I don’t want to be the same comic I was three years ago.”

“In the present entertainment climate where women are not treated equally in film or TV, would you say that comedy has no gender identity?”

“I think there’s a growing demand for female comedy. I’ve been in comedy for 10 years now and when I started there didn’t seem to be much demand; even women in the crowd would be like ‘ugh, there’s a female comedian, I hope she doesn’t have her period,’ those old stereotypes but that doesn’t seem to exist anymore.  Even misogynistic club owners that I know will notice that women have a better time when a female is on stage. A lot of my female friends prefer female comedy because they relate to it, which seems obvious but it’s taken a long time for people to feel comfortable saying that. There are so many stereotypes out there about women not being funny, not having the same drive to be funny, there are so many theories. People grew used to women not having voices but now they do and it’s beautiful. For myself it’s great to have that respect and not be treated like a second-class artist/citizen but I think it’s reflective of a much bigger movement in society.” 


“What does it mean to you to be nominated as a writer for This Hour Has 22 Minutes?”

“It’s very cool because it’s my first TV writing job and it’s so nice to get reinforcement like that. It’s pretty difficult to break into network TV writing from doing standup. It’s been huge for my career and has really opened doors for me even with standup because it provides more credibility. Also, the pay is much better because standup really doesn’t pay very well. You only work during the season and take the rest of the year off without having to worry so much about money. It allows me to work on other projects such as a podcast that I’ve wanted to do forever. It’s really given me much more wiggle room time wise.” 


“Do you feel like the team at This Hour Has 22 Minutes has accepted you like part of the family?”

“Yes I think so. The new season starts up again in September. The person that was the head writer last year is now the producer and my one of my favourite writers on the show (Heidi Brander) is now the head writer. It’s going to be a great season and everyone is so nice and welcoming. My boyfriend and I are both writers on the show and were initially very intimidated by joining the team but now we’re making friends and they are the best. Our writers room is so diverse, it’s really impressed me.”     


“What would you consider to be one of the biggest attributes for doing stand-up?”

“I think one of the qualities that sets comedians apart from other entertainers like actors or writers is being narcissistic. It is very self indulgent because you’re writing it out, you’re listening to yourself work through it as well as getting other people to listen to it. It’s very self-centered and I consider it the tennis of art because it’s truly all about you and not a team effort. I think it’s why comedians are very isolated and sad, myself included but I’m working on it but I think it’s the true line for all of us.”   


“Have you ever considered writing a comedy feature film?”

“Yes definitely. I have a couple of ideas. I don’t have a lot of time but I do plan to break into it especially after I move to the US. I’m currently in the process of getting my visa. Hopefully by next summer I’ll be in New York. It’s been my dream since I was younger to live there and now I have a good reason. I did a couple shows down there a few weeks ago and it was truly one of the best times of my life. They were surprisingly welcoming.”


“Would you say that you get your comedy wit from your parents or another family member?”

“Definitely from my parents. My mom is one of the funniest people I know.  My mom and my grandmother are so funny and so close and always have fresh material, new stories about things that have happened. I’m sure it’s why I became a comedian because they didn’t just tell female jokes, it was universally funny. My dad is also very funny but in a political way. I think anyone that’s close to you is funny, even my friends are pretty funny.”

“If you weren’t pursuing comedy, what other career aspirations would you be pursuing?”

“I can’t think of anything else besides writing that I’d really enjoy.  When I wasn’t making a living off comedy I was working at Starbucks. Realistically, I’d probably still be there.”  


“They say comedy is the best medicine. Can you explain the rush of making an entire crowd laugh?”

“I was just talking to my friend about making audiences laugh and how you tell a joke on stage and the audience gets it, you feel like you’re all on the same page. It puts everyone at ease and its one of the best human interactions. There’s a study that came out about the people that watched The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and how they were more informed about the news compared to people that watched just the news. I believe it has a lot to do with the way it’s absorbed. If you have a more positive association you’ll remember it better. I’ve always believed that using laughter to get information across is much more effective.”   


“Have you used comedy in your personal life to overcome life’s hiccups?”

“Oh yes, definitely. I think most comedians have had weird childhoods and humour is definitely a defense mechanism. If you make people laugh it lightens the mood.”  


“Looking back at your comedy career, do you recall the moment where you felt embraced/accepted by the comedy community and you knew you belonged there?”

“Yes I do. I started my comedy in Ottawa, where I was living and I didn’t feel accepted. After I moved to Vancouver, I immediately felt accepted and encouraged. I think it’s less about where you are in comedy and more about finding your audience. Comedy can feel so isolating because it’s a solo performance. Finding people that are rooting for you is so important. It is a thankless job and you get thanked while you’re on stage but the rest of the 23 and ½ hours of the day, there’s nothing.” 


“In comedy, who inspires you the most?”

“Ooh yeah, Beth Stelling, I love Nikki Glaser, Dave Chappelle is one of my favourites. They’re my top three right now but there seems to be a comedy boom happening right now. There was one in the 80’s but with Netflix now producing so much comedy there’s so much good stuff out there and it’s a great time to be in comedy.” 


“You’ve just beaten your best friend at rock/paper/scissors and the bet was a dare. What do you dare them to do?”

“All of my friends have social anxiety issues so definitely saying something weird to a stranger. My boyfriend is a really picky eater so I’d dare him to eat something. I just watched a season of Survivor and there was a competition where they had to eat some really strange food.” 


“You drew the short straw and now have to choose between performing in front of inmates or kindergarten kids.”

“Definitely inmates because they don’t get a lot of entertainment and I think they’d be a real captive audience and I think kindergarten kids would be much harder to keep their attention. There’s actually a comic in Vancouver that recently performed at a prison and she said it was great. My dad is also a teacher in a prison and is very funny. I’m sure he cracks jokes all day and they love it.”


What a treat it was talking to Sophie Buddle. It’s not often I get an inside window into the life of a comic. It was refreshing and I hope she didn’t see me peeking.     


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