If you’re a regular visitor to Standard Issue, you won’t need telling that we’re lucky enough to have a cracking team of contributors who we love dearly. We thought it was about time we let them introduce themselves properly. Say ‘hello’ to Ruth Bratt.
Official job title: Well, on my tax return it’s writer/performer so I’ll go with that… but writer-improviser-actor-comedian kind of sums it up.
What was the first thing you wanted to be? I really wanted to be a marine biologist. I’d read a lot of Madeleine L’Engle books and marine biologists got to do so much great stuff, like swimming with dolphins and understanding whales.
When I realised I’d have to be good at science for that job, and that it wasn’t all swimming with dolphins, I changed my mind. I was not good at science or maths. So then I decided I’d be a human rights lawyer.
When did you know you wanted to be what you are now? I’d never been much of a performer, except with my best mate at home in front of our parents. We’d make them watch endless performances of us ‘dancing’ to the Fame soundtrack on LP, which would skip if we landed too heavily.
When I got to sixth form, I got the lead in the school play when they discovered I could sing. But it wasn’t until my second year at university – when I was in Vermont on a semester abroad, and an acting tutor demanded I do his classes and insisted I pursue it after college – that I took it at all seriously.
It must have been a latent desire, I suppose, for me to have taken what he said seriously, but I’d never really entertained it until then.
Since then, everything I’ve done has been discovered so I don’t think I’ve ever really realised what I want to do until I’m doing it!
“Work hard, be nice, be professional, make your own work, keep going because other people will give up and then there’s fewer people going for the same jobs. Mostly, don’t be a dick.”
What’s your strongest memory from school/education? Laughing a lot and getting told off for laughing a lot. I wasn’t naughty; I just found things funny. I was still being sent out of classrooms at 18 for laughing. I really like laughing.
When you’re not working, what else do you like to do? Oh lord, it’s only being asked this question that makes me realise what a workaholic I am! Because it’s a freelance life, you kind of find yourself always working. I love to knit. I paint: I’m not good at it but it’s important to have a creative outlet that isn’t judged – my worklife is entirely creative and entirely judged!
I am learning to sew and I’d quite like to do a pottery course. I love eating amazing food. And I have a secret obsession with Neighbours (but I tend to watch that while I’m working so I don’t think that counts).
What has been your proudest creative moment to date? It’s a toss-up between me and Lucy Trodd getting our show on Radio 4 or getting Showstopper! The Improvised Musical into the West End. We started above a pub eight years ago and we’ve worked so hard and sacrificed an awful lot to get there, and it’s been an overwhelming run so far.
What was your favourite day at work? Opening night of Showstopper, I guess. Just for sheer emotion and joy and pride and wonder at my fellow performers. But there have been tons. Doing What Does The Title Matter Anyway? in Edinburgh (the live Whose Line revival) with all the people I’d watched on telly as a teenager was pretty amazing.
Oh, and when I met Mark Heap when I was doing Sarah Millican’s Support Group. That was the BEST DAY EVER, and I managed to keep my cool for most of the day.
What would you like to erase from your past? Nothing. Everything in my past, even the bad stuff, actually especially the bad stuff, has led me to here and here is pretty amazing.
What brings you the most joy? Being onstage when someone is being utterly hilarious. Or that moment of total connection and complicity in impro. The only thing that makes me happier is my fella doing impressions of celebrities and people we know. He’s very funny.
What makes you angry? Injustice. Inequality. Ineptitude. Laziness. Unthinking behaviour. Lack of reason. Lack of personal responsibility. I get angry with myself when I do any of these things! Oh, and people walking slowly.
Professionally, who has been your biggest inspiration? I don’t know really. I’m inspired by so many people on a daily basis. And not famouses either. I’m definitely inspired by the Showstoppers because that is one bunch of hardworking talented perfectionists.
Have you ever met someone who made you go weak at the knees? More than one!
“My dad once told me, ‘Panic and regret are wasted emotions,’ and he’s right. I try not to do either…”
What advice would you give a woman who wants a career like yours? The same advice I’d give to a man. Work hard, be nice, be professional, make your own work, keep going because other people will give up and then there’s fewer people going for the same jobs. It’s basically a waiting game! Mostly, don’t be a dick. Be good at your job, and always be willing to learn and to try harder. You can always improve. You’ve never ‘nailed it’ – you can always be better.
Also, know what you are willing to compromise on and what is a deal-breaker and stick to that; knowing that your stubbornness could lead to the project not happening.
And most importantly never compare yourself to anyone else.
How do you define success? You can only define success by your own standards and not by comparison with others. My goal has always been to make a living out of performing and writing, and I do that now. I don’t have a day job – though I’m aware that could change any day. It’s a very fickle industry.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever had? “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Basically don’t worry about stuff you have no control over. And my dad once told me, “Panic and regret are wasted emotions,” and he’s right. I try not to do either… My friend Mitch also told me that one day I would meet my wizard. And I did.
What’s your favourite photograph of yourself? (And can we see it?): I hate photos of me. But this one [right] is pretty cool.
Where did you go on your favourite holiday? The Amalfi Coast – particularly Ravello. I dream of living there.
Who can’t you live without? No one.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being a decent human being.
Who is your favourite person? Adam.
Who’s your favourite animal? (picture PLEASE!): Edie (my friends’ dog who is beautifully ugly and skittish and weird and I love her).
Which song could be used to soundtrack your life so far? The Baked Potato Song, by Matt Lucas.
What are your favourite three articles at Standard Issue? I loved Pippa Evans’ 100 Days as a Biscuit series. And I always read Jess Fostekew’s Hoovering. And I like Felicity Ward’s loo reviews, because I am near phobic about public loos!
Which question would you have liked to answer in this questionnaire, but weren’t asked? If you were queen for a day what would you do? And then I’d tell you that I AM QUEEN. Because a little part of me believes I am Queen Victoria. For real.
The four-part Trodd en Bratt Say Well Done You, series two begins on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday 22 November at 7.15pm.
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is on until Saturday 28 November at The Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue, Mon–Sat at 8pm and a 3pm matinee on Saturdays. Then in 2016, the team are off on tour again. Visit www.theshowstoppers.org for dates and deets.4719 Views