Laugh Track: Sophie Buddle

Illustration by Phoebe Lim

Being an accomplished anything at 21 years old is a big deal, which makes the reputation that comedian Sophie Buddle has all the more impressive. A Vancouverite of three years — and a stand-up comedian of six — Buddle is a staple at several local comedy shows, even when she’s not the one performing the jokes. The Peak chatted with Buddle about the satisfaction of writing material for other people, her first foray into stand-up at 15, and what advice she has for anyone starting out in comedy.

How did you first get involved with comedy?

My mom won tickets to Absolute Comedy in Ottawa and we went and had a really good time, and then we started going every week as a mother-daughter date. I asked her, “Can I do that?” and she said “Sure.”

We went on amateur nights and I’d think, “It looks like people don’t really know what they’re doing, and I don’t know what I’m doing.” It wasn’t like I thought I was better than those people; it was more that I wanted to be part of the struggle.

Do you mostly perform stand-up, or have you done other forms of comedy?

Before I did stand-up, I was a child actor. I was in a couple of independent horror movies, no blockbusters. I did improv in high school, but I’m not that good at it.

When was the first time you performed at a comedy club?

I lied about my age for the first two years of doing stand-up, because I was really young, around 15. I wanted to do stand-up but there were laws basically preventing me from living my dream, so I would just sneak in. It’s not that I looked old, but if you say that you’re on a show, they assume you’re not 15. Sometimes they’d ask for my ID and I’d say, “No, I’m late! I’m on the show, I have to go onstage,” and they’d let me in.

Finish this dream quote: “Sophie Buddle, official spokesperson for blank.”

“Michelle Obama’s arms.”

What’s been your most humbling experience while on stage?

Performing anywhere in Vancouver is really humbling, because the scene here is so insane. The talent in this city always makes me feel bad, because I’ll be on a show with some of the best comedians in the country, and they’re doing the same amount of time as me.

Do you think there are any advantages or disadvantages to being a younger comedian?

I think there are both. When you’re not old enough to enter the clubs, that’s a disadvantage, but that problem solves itself eventually. Advantages. . . Really good comedians are always older because they have so much life experience and they know more references. It’s always easier to be a comic if you’re older. But if you start young, it’s a big advantage because you’ll have that age at some point, plus more years of experience.

You hear that it usually takes six to eight to 10+ years for someone to figure out their style or voice. . .

Totally. I’m at six years now, so people accept that I’m a comedian. For the first four or five years, you’re not a comedian. If you’ve been doing it for four years, people still think, “Oh, they’ll probably quit.” I think five is the point where people accept that you’ll be part of the community.

Do you have an ultimate goal in comedy that you’re working towards?

I don’t have a goal to have my own television show or anything. I’d like to write for a show at some point, but I’m always happy doing stand-up. I’d be happy to do stand-up until I die.

Do you have experience writing things outside of your stand-up?

I love doing roasts. I judge a roast show every month at the Little Mountain Gallery, so I get to write roast jokes. And then my ex-boyfriend has a Letterman-style talk showcase and I write all his monologue jokes. I like writing little jokes for other people.

What’s the most satisfying part of writing jokes for other people?

Just sending them off and then someone writing back, “Oh my god, this is so funny,” and people getting excited to tell your jokes because they know it’s going to go well. You get that feeling of saying something and then a group of people laughing, and you didn’t even have to say anything.

What’s something you’ve always wished someone would ask you in an interview that you haven’t been asked yet?

I don’t know, I don’t have a message that I want to get out there that no one’s asking me about. My advice for female comics: stand up for yourself if someone introduces you poorly or is sexist in any way. I’ve been introduced onstage so terribly, even recently.

There was twice in one week, and I won’t say any names because they’re both nice guys and they didn’t mean to do this, but I’d just gotten back from Just for Laughs and it’s the easiest credit to give. The two people before me had also just gotten back from Just For Laughs and he introduced them properly, and then for me he said, “Your next comedian is a female,” and that was it. Even saying I was new on the scene, which isn’t good, would’ve been better. Anything but that. For him to say nothing about comedy is so offensive.

This has happened a lot. That same week, someone introduced me by saying, “Your next comedian hasn’t been doing stand-up very long, give it up for Sophie Buddle.” It’s such an uphill right away. Everyone makes jokes and a lot of the jokes will be about you. Remember that everyone gets made fun of when they start, girl or guy, but after you’re part of the scene, you decide what jokes are being made of you.

My advice for newer people is to watch as much stand-up, live and online, as possible. Get on stage as much as possible too, and just be nice and fun to hang out with on shows. It’s easier to get stage time if people like you, and it encourages you to get out more if you want to hang out.

As far as writing goes: just be original, say what would make you laugh. It doesn’t make sense to write for anyone but yourself.

Your next chances to see the hilarious Sophie Buddle perform are October 8 to 10 at the Comedy Mix, or as part of Paul Anthony’s Talent Time on November 5.