Sophie Buddle is an Exceptional Person

May 17, 2022

Photo Credit

Leigh Righton


Valerie Lopez


Sara Cline

2022 Moontower Just For Laughs Comedy Festival Series

The Moontower Comedy Festival has returned in 2022 under the umbrella of Just For Laughs and blessed us with 10 days of comedy, film, live podcast, and afterparties. Comedy Wham is featuring our favorite conversations from this year's festival. Enjoy!

We’ve heard many a come­di­an ori­gin sto­ry by now, so we’re no strangers to the fact that many comics stum­ble into com­e­dy from total­ly unre­lat­ed jobs, degrees, and back­grounds. In fact, rare is it for a come­di­an to be so steeped in com­e­dy from such a young age that it ends up being their only real job his­to­ry. But our guest this week Sophie Bud­dle is an excep­tion­al rar­i­ty for more rea­sons than just that.

At age 14, the local haunts that you fre­quent­ed were prob­a­bly movie the­aters, shop­ping malls, and maybe the occa­sion­al mini-golf course. For a bud­ding 14-year-old Bud­dle, at the top of that list was the com­e­dy club. Every week, Bud­dle and her mom would go watch the ama­teur com­e­dy night at the local com­e­dy club in Ottawa, Cana­da, treat­ing them­selves each to a drink — maybe a mar­ti­ni. (Her mom wasn’t just any mom; she was an artist; she was a cool mom.) Pret­ty quick­ly, a now 15-year-old Bud­dle decid­ed she want­ed to try things out from the oth­er van­tage point: the stage. When you’re a kid, like, noth­ing’s real­ly scary,” she explains of the deci­sion. And we’re watch­ing ama­teur night … So, half the peo­ple would bomb, and I was like, I could bomb like that.’” Grant­ed, every­one thought Bud­dle was old­er, so she took on a more mature per­sona in her com­e­dy to keep up appear­ances and not get kicked out. I … had all these jokes about sex, and was like, very much not hav­ing sex, so it made no sense,” Bud­dle laughs.

Of course, mere­ly sur­viv­ing as a teenag­er is a hard enough feat in itself, but being a teenag­er with stand-up for a hob­by? It was very dif­fi­cult,” Bud­dle recalls of try­ing to strike the bal­ance between school and com­e­dy, not to men­tion high-lev­el soc­cer. Some­times I would go to a show and ask to go up late and just be like, drenched in sweat from soc­cer,” she recalls. Even­tu­al­ly, Bud­dle came to an impasse with the Han­nah-Mon­tana-esque dou­ble life, and she chose com­e­dy. It just felt right. It’s eas­i­er to work on doing [some­thing] if you feel like you’re good for your age, or you’re good for your skill lev­el, when you feel a lit­tle ahead of the curve…” Bud­dle muses.

It’s easier to work on doing [something] if you feel like you’re good for your age, or you’re good for your skill level, when you feel a little ahead of the curve…
Sophie Buddle

That being said, Bud­dle is sure to men­tion that this was a dif­fer­ent time for com­e­dy, espe­cial­ly in Cana­da. The big com­e­dy Renais­sance — from Net­flix spe­cials to Youtube star­dom — was yet to come, and there weren’t any house­hold stand-up names in Cana­da. You real­ly had to do it just because you loved it,” Bud­dle elab­o­rates. There was­n’t a clear future.” It was an espe­cial­ly murky future for female come­di­ans in Cana­da; indeed, Buddle’s own scene had only a few, very periph­er­al women. Back then, I think [male comics] thought it was eas­i­er [to do com­e­dy as a woman]. So, they had kind of a chip on their shoul­der about me doing it,” she recalls. And I think there was a bit of an atti­tude of like, that I was get­ting moved up too quick­ly because I was a girl, and they want­ed, like, a token girl. That was still sort of the mentality.”

Once Bud­dle turned 18, she was on to green­er pas­tures. And by that, I mean Van­cou­ver. Though ini­tial­ly the move was part of an effort to go to fash­ion school — a ven­ture that quick­ly came to an end, as Bud­dle end­ed up drop­ping out — it turned out rather serendip­i­tous­ly: Bud­dle loved Vancouver’s com­e­dy scene. There’s a real com­e­dy lit­er­a­cy in [Van­cou­ver]. So, like, when audi­ences go out, they real­ly know what stand-up is … and they under­stand the pac­ing, and they under­stand nuance; and it real­ly makes a huge dif­fer­ence for comics,” Bud­dle remarks. Not only that, but the rel­a­tive­ly small size of the scene made it so that good open-micers would move up to the same shows that the best head­lin­ers were doing. Bud­dle felt it was as though every­one was get­ting an oppor­tu­ni­ty to improve every­body. The new tal­ent got to learn from the more estab­lished tal­ent, and the estab­lished tal­ent stayed extra fresh by not get­ting swept into their own insu­lar circuits.

More recent­ly, Bud­dle made yet anoth­er move — this time to Los Ange­les, Cal­i­for­nia. I’ve always want­ed to live in Amer­i­ca,” Bud­dle says. How­ev­er, the actu­al logis­ti­cal process isn’t quite as acces­si­ble as it looks in the movies. Even­tu­al­ly, though, as Bud­dle reached a nation­al lev­el of suc­cess as a com­ic, she real­ized she could apply for the excep­tion­al person’s visa. It’s very embar­rass­ing,” Bud­dle says of the process, because you have to ask all of your favorite comics to write you a let­ter that says that you’re excep­tion­al, and that you’re going to be an asset in Amer­i­ca, and that you’re the best com­ic they’ve ever seen.” On top of that, it required heaps of paper­work — an espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult feat for Bud­dle due to ADHD, not to men­tion that this was hap­pen­ing in quaran-times, so she was stuck home­bound, unable to go out and do what she loves. To add even more insult to injury, Buddle’s debut album had just won the 2020 Juno Com­e­dy Album of the Year award, and COVID not only led to the can­cel­la­tion of the phys­i­cal award show, but also pre­vent­ed her from reap­ing the rewards of get­ting book­ings and press as a Juno win­ner. “[Get­ting the visa] couldn’t have been a big­ger relief,” Bud­dle claims, after such a low time in her life. It was real­ly a light at the end of the tunnel.”

And so coming here [to America], and then headlining right away really means a lot to me
Sophie Buddle

The move to Amer­i­ca has proven espe­cial­ly grat­i­fy­ing for Bud­dle because she is now head­lin­ing all over Amer­i­ca. Indeed, it took Bud­dle a long time to get pro­mot­ed to head­lin­ing gigs in Cana­da. Every­one thought of her as young, despite the fact that many of her male coun­ter­parts with the same length of expe­ri­ence were get­ting to head­line. “… [A] lot of com­e­dy club own­ers and book­ers choose based off of their own com­e­dy tastes and sen­si­bil­i­ty,” Bud­dle notes, which makes sense, but it’s, you know; they’re most­ly choos­ing oth­er men their age that are talk­ing about their wife and their kids or what­ev­er.” In fact, after ten years of com­e­dy, she approached her home club for a head­lin­ing gig to record her album. And they just basi­cal­ly refused,” Bud­dle states. And I said, Are we ever… Am I ever going to head­line?’ And in so many words, they said no.” It took a switch to a dif­fer­ent club to final­ly head­line in her home coun­try. And so com­ing here [to Amer­i­ca], and then head­lin­ing right away real­ly means a lot to me, because it was so frus­trat­ing for so long.” (Plus, appar­ent­ly Amer­i­can audi­ences are loud­er and more overt about show­ing you that they like you, accord­ing to Bud­dle. That part doesn’t hurt either.)

Speak­ing of hurt, Bud­dle remarks that stand-up is extra near and dear to her heart because it acts as a cush­ion against hard times. It’s help­ful to talk about [trou­bles]; it’s help­ful for me to work through stuff because I nev­er learned how to talk about my feel­ings with my fam­i­ly,” Bud­dle remarks. Not only that, but Bud­dle believes that mak­ing your strife acces­si­ble onstage helps audi­ences too, as they process their own pri­vate strug­gles. So I think the biggest advan­tage to being a standup per­former is when some­thing bad hap­pens to you, there’s an imme­di­ate reper­cus­sion of good things,” Bud­dle artic­u­lates sunnily.

And as our inter­view with Bud­dle (dur­ing her first time at the Moon­tow­er Just For Laughs Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val!) came to a close, it was easy for us to see why Bud­dle con­tin­ues to be, indeed, such an excep­tion­al per­son after all. Con­sid­er this arti­cle as just one more let­ter in tes­ta­ment to that fact (even if she already has the visa now).

Fol­low Sophie

Sophie can be seen and heard:

  • Debut Album (2020 Juno Com­e­dy Album of the Year): Lil Bit of Buddle
  • Pod­cast — Obsessed with Sophie Buddle
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Sophie Buddle