Glaswegian comedian and podcast host Susie McCabe is coming to the Edinburgh Fringe with her new show, The Merchant of Menace, so we got in touch to find out more, as well as discussing Queer visibility in the comedy industry, and what makes her proud. 


Tell us a little bit about The Merchant of Menace, what was the inspiration behind this show and what can audiences expect? 

Merchant of Menace came about because I started to kind of see and read things like, “Susie McCabe is unashamedly Glaswegian”, “Susie McCabe is unashamedly gay”, “Susie McCabe is unashamedly Scottish” and I was like, I had no idea I had to be ashamed of any of those things.  

Credit Andrew Jackson Curse These Eyes

No, that’s such a strange way of putting it.  

Right? And it’s quite a common thing attached to your class. The class system is quite a thing in this country, it even defines the supermarket that you shop in, and I really wanted to look at that. Things have changed a little bit for me, I work in the arts, and I’ve had relative success and I got married last year, but my recent experiences have actually affirmed the class that I’m from, so although I might not be from that class anymore, I’m still rooted in there personally, and so is the perception of me. I think it’s incredibly sad that we gage people on that in this country, I really do I think it’s incredibly sad that someone’s success becomes, you know ‘working class girl/boy done good’ – by all means be aspirational, but you shouldn’t feel class shame.  


No, but it is attached to someone more than you think in that way. 

Yeah, and by the way it doesn’t matter what end of the class scale you are.  


So, the show’s going to be about that aspect of identity? 

Yeah, it’s about that identity and also about when you get older things like becoming a godparent, stuff like that and the relationships that change within your own peer groups and stuff so yeah there’s a lot there. Also, the story that I end on – which I don’t want to give away – is an absolute doozy.  


Your comedy has been described as heartfelt and very sincere. How do you blend the side-splitting with the heart-warming? 

I think it’s about being truthful but also a bit compassionate. It’s not just about the world how you see it, but how others see it too, and you can be compassionate about that, and you can understand it. I think if you’re genuine and honest with people they will warm to you regardless of if it’s a straight white man in his 50’s, a young 18-year-old student, a gay couple in their 40’s, or a younger queer-identifying non-binary person. [Sincerity] is so rare nowadays, isn’t it? I did a bit in last year’s show about how young people have grown up in a world where people like me have been really visible on TV which is wonderful, because when I grew up you didn’t really see gay people on TV and if you did, it would be a gay story line in Eastenders followed by the headline ‘Eastbenders’. It’s how lesbians are then depicted as well compared to gay men – gay men are always at the disco having a pure laugh and lesbians are always sitting reading poetry to each other. So yeah, I was just laughing at the ridiculousness of it. Anyway I got so many messages from families who had come with older teenage kids who then asked, ‘was it really like that?’ and I think that’s a wonderful thing – if you’ve managed to make people laugh on stage with the ridiculousness of how things were at a certain point in time, but then also make them realise how hard that was, and open up a discussion around a kitchen table about it.  


Do you think the comedy industry is a welcoming place for expressing queer identity? 

I have always found it welcoming in that respect. I have never once had an issue with that, ever. I mean there’s still the patriarchy, but what can you do, but I’d like to think it’s still based on how good you are, and if you’re not getting booked it’s not because your gay it’s because you’re terrible. I think there’s a definite distinction there, like “I’m being persecuted because I’m gay and I can’t get gigs”. No, I’ve seen your comedy, and I wouldn’t give you gigs and I’m also a gay so behave yourself. Do you know what though, I think the world in general has become a real tougher place. I feel the world is so angry. Comedy did that shift didn’t it where it was like, ‘Well actually I’m a right-winged comedian, and I’m gonna buck the trend and say things that are a bit out there.’ You’re not saying things that are out there, you’re saying things that old people say.  


That you know people are going to respond to. 

Yeah, a certain type of person’s going to respond to. If that’s the path that you choose for your own success, by all means follow it, but I wouldn’t want that audience.  


What makes you feel proud? 

I was sat at breakfast on Sunday morning, having just done three gigs at the Kings Theatre over two days 17,050 people per show, and my best friend of 25 years went, “Are you proud of yourself?” and I went, “I’ve never really thought of it like that.” My wife and my best pal laughed at that, they were like, “that’s the most ‘you’ thing ever” because it’s almost like a working class thing that you can’t let yourself be proud and enjoy it. But what makes me proud is that a young women came up to me, maybe about 17/18 and she says, “I really love your comedy and I listen to you all the time” and she told me that she’d never heard anybody like me before, but she felt like she was listening to herself. and for me, that’s it. That’s the thing, that’s why you do what you do because somewhere, there’s somebody on a train or on a bus or in their bedroom who is a bit lost, but somehow there’ve stumbled upon me, and they can relate to me. That made me feel like I’d proper pumped out my chest.  

That must be so satisfying to hear. 

Not in an egotistical kind of way, but more that I know what it’s like to be that girl, I was there and actually more importantly, she knows that I know what it’s like to be there, and that’s a really wonderful thing. 

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