WHEN Suzi Ruffell started writing her latest show, she intended to examine the world she now inhabits – somewhere between the working-class family she was born into in Portsmouth, and her arty, middle-class life in east London.

But then unexpected events intervened.

“So much happened in my life,” she says. “There were two deaths in my family in quick succession and I went through a big, messy break-up.”

But even when she was miserable, Suzi turned up for her gigs.

“The weekend my Nan died and I broke up with my girlfriend, I went on stage and talked about it.

“Everything I do on stage comes from my life – I sometimes wonder if I’m revealing too much – and when I was heartbroken I did question how many times I could go on stage and talk about it.

“But I think the best stuff I’ve written is where I’ve had a visceral response to something, and hopefully people will connect with that.”

Keeping It Classy was originally supposed to be about, er, class – Suzi says she has become an “avocado-munching, yoga-practicing Londoner”. But she just couldn’t resist writing about the personal traumas she had suffered.

“When I began to write it it also became about how I was recalibrating my life,” she says.

“The deaths really affected my family and I was with my girlfriend for four years and we were engaged.

“I thought my life was going in one direction, and then that changed.”

The 32-year-old comes from a close “large, loud, rough-and-tumble,” family.

Her dad buys and sells lorries and, after raising Suzi and her older brother, her mum became his assistant.

The comic was the first in her family to go to university, while her 24 cousins all do what she terms “proper jobs” – working in pubs, waitressing, scaffolding.

Suzi used to bunk off school regularly. “I wasn’t clever and didn’t have friends,” she says.

“I had a chip on my shoulder because I was gay and I was keeping this big secret, so I was just a ball of anger, and I think my teachers just gave up on me.

“I went to a school where a teacher might not even turn up. So I thought if I wasn’t worth teaching, it wasn’t worth having ambition.

“Ambition wasn’t instilled in us at school – it was my mum and dad who encouraged me.”

By contrast, she reflects on the time a fellow comic took her to his old Oxford college. She was wowed by the magnificent buildings in which he had studied and where some of the Harry Potter movies were filmed. “I thought, of course if you went here you would believe anything is possible with your life,” she says.

Even as a young child, she knew there was currency in being funny.

“My Dad and my uncle would tell stories in the pub and everyone would listen to them and I loved it. I sort of knew being funny was better than being good [at school].”

Joining a youth drama group transformed her outlook and she decided she wanted to be a comedic actress – Victoria Wood, French and Saunders and Catherine Tate are her heroes.

She later attended drama school in London and it was there she first did stand-up – “I felt really comfortable on stage as me, not in character” – and decided this was where her career lay.

Since 2012, Suzi has supported several big-name comedians on their tours, including Josh Widdicombe, Romesh Ranganathan and Alan Carr.

“I never try to be shocking or unnecessarily mean on stage,” she says. “I never take the piss out of working-class people.

“I don’t think anything I do is particularly contentious but I think audiences like me taking the mick out of them.”

Keeping It Classy had a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe last August, and Suzi has updated sections of it – including the fallout of Brexit, which can divide the room, but which she tackles nonetheless.

“I’m still angry about it, but lots of my family voted for it and I understand why,” she says. “But you have to find ways of making even such a divisive subject funny – and I don’t want my act to be a TED talk.

“I mean, I want people to think, but I want them to laugh more.”

Suzi Ruffell: Keeping It Classy
Komedia, Brighton, April 10
The Hawth, Crawley, April 19