Zoe Lyons

Joe Coyle 02/02/2011

Zoe Lyons is back on the road in 2011 with a brand new show 'Clownbusting', her second ever nationwide tour. She has in previous years performed three solo shows at the Edinburgh Festival to critical acclaim. She recently appeared on Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow and is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous on both our TV and Radio.

Last year's touring show 'Miss Machismo” gained her much critical acclaim and her second solo show in 2008 'Mangled Mantra Of The Mixed Up Modern Mind' gained her a win for Funniest Joke of the Fringe voted by Dave TV, for her one liner….”I can't believe Amy Winehouse self-harms. She's so irritating she must be able to find someone to do it for her…”

Zoe's debut solo show 'Fight Or Flight' procured her an If. Comedy Best Newcomer nomination. That same year Zoe was honoured with an invitation to become a patron of Pride joining a select group of luminaries which includes Stephen Fry, Sir Elton John and Sir Ian McKellen.

Zoe talks to our own Joe Coyle about her upcoming tour, her inspirations and her life as a comedian.

So Zoe, How do you go about putting a show together? Where do you find your inspiration?

From everything that happens around me. Some of my material will be topical or influenced by News events. Sometimes you just overhear daft things people say to one another and it can trigger a train of thought. I am pretty self aware of my own faults and weaknesses and that is a great place to draw stuff from. Failure is funnier than success.
I am writing new material all the time so you tend to collect things as you go and then try to find a common thread or back bone to a show. Generally people start to preview and try out material 6-4 months before taking a show to the Edinburgh festival for example.

What does a working comedian's life consist of?

Get up, but not too early, you don't want to peak too soon. Watch the news, think about going to the Gym, don't actually go to the Gym. Do admin, book in some gigs. Write some new stuff, decide new stuff is rubbish, throw new stuff in the bin. Figure out where the gig is that evening. Drive, train or walk to gig. Think about perhaps doing the new stuff you threw out earlier. Do gig and leave feeling pleased/ disappointed that you did/didn't do new stuff. Get home, eat something even though it is late and you know you shouldn't but convince yourself that you will work it off at Gym tomorrow. Repeat to fade....... The life of a stand up comedian can be quite an isolated one at times. We spend a lot of time on the road travelling to gigs. I have never written a show with another comedian but I will meet with friends and talk over ideas for each other's shows. It is great to bounce ideas about with others. I love how differently different comics' brains work.

How much does improvisation play a part in your comedy?

There is a script when I do a solo show but I am adding to it all the time. Improvisation is really important. When it comes to you on stage and it works it is the best feeling I think you can have as a stand up. If an ad lib works I then have to find a way to squeeze it into the show. There is an element of smoke and mirrors with delivering everything as if it is being thought up spontaneously.

Was it easy to become a comedian?

I procrastinated for many years before I bit the bullet and did an open spot at a gig in London. I did 5 minutes of very poor material but I was so delighted at having done my first gig I then threw myself into it whole heartedly. I did every gig under the sun, travelling all over the place for no money or next to no money. That was seven and a half years ago and I have clocked up some miles since then.

How does your sexuality affect the subject manner of your comedy?

Sometimes I talk about it and sometimes I don't. I have been in a relationship for the last 12 years, it is part of my life so I don't hide it. I do have material about the stupid beliefs people have about homosexuality and the things that right wing nut jobs have tried to blame on gays. Hurricane Katrina, floods, global warming you name it, someone out there will blame the gays for it. The thing is, if we are the cause of all these disasters.... well, I don't mean to alarm anyone but we are not even trying! Imagine what we could achieve if we made an effort.

Who do you see as your contemporaries? Can you give us a comedian who you think will be big in 2011?

I started out pretty much at the same time as Kerry Godliman, Sarah Millican and Susan Calman. I think my pal and fellow Brightonian Seann Walsh will hit the big time pretty soon if not this year.

Do you have any favourite comedians on the circuit at the moment?

I am fickle so my favourites change from time to time, but I love watching Tom Stade.

Do you have a favourite joke? If so what is it?

I don't actually have a favourite joke, probably because my attention span is so brief. I laugh and then move on.

2010 was a big year for you. What were your highlights?

I did the New Zealand comedy festival for the first time this year and that was great fun. I also spent 5 weeks doing the Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow and got to travel all over Australia doing gigs in mining towns. I loved it. I was part of the Michael McIntyre Roadshow as well this year and that was a real buzz.

What does 2011 hold for you?

My Tours kicks off in February and that goes through to March and then some further dates in July. I am going to Melbourne in April for the comedy festival which I am really looking forward to. I took a year off from the Edinburgh festival last year but I will be back there in August this year.

Thanks to Zoe for taking the time to speak to us. Her Clownbusting tour starts Thursday 3rd Feb in Nottingham and runs till the end of July. Full details can be found at