Miss Machismo: Zoe Lyons on cracking 'the funniest joke' at last year's Edinburgh Fringe and winding up Germaine Greer
Thursday 18 June 2009
Zoe Lyons has been on the UK comedy circuit for six years, gigging in clubs and fringe festivals all over the country with her own brand of observational wit. She was made a patron of Pride in 2007, and will be performing at the Southbank's Udderbelly venue as part of this year's festival, alongside Craig Hill, Susan Calman and Jonathan Mayor, in Stand Up with Pride!
Are you looking forward to your Pride London show?
Yes, I'll be doing some material from my Edinburgh Fringe show, and some will be old stuff. I won't be doing the full hour – I don't think the other acts will be very impressed if I said: "I've just got to run through this stuff, I hope you don't mind."
What does being a patron for Pride London mean to you?
This year I'm going on the march as patron of Pride. I was very honoured to be asked to do it [in 2007], with the likes of Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellen, who does an awful lot for Stonewall and gay rights.
I am looking forward to this year and being a bit more visible. However, if I was asked to dress up as a very proud pineapple, I'd be outta there – that's not happening.
You won the Funny Women award in 2004, just seven months after your first gig as a stand-up. What was it that made you want to be a comedian?
Utter desperation! No, I'd done psychology at university, I'd studied to be an actress at drama school and I didn't really feel very comfortable in that world. I ended up waitressing and not getting any acting work and not really pursuing acting work either.
I got to the point where I thought: if I'm really honest, what I want to try and do is be a stand-up. So I booked myself in to do five minutes [at a new act night] at the King's Head in Crouch End, north London. I had no material, obviously, but I thought I was funny, so I just wrote five minutes and did it. From that week on, I gigged continually.
How did you summon up the guts to do your first gig?
The first gig I wasn't even that nervous ... It was the second gig. I almost soiled myself and went blind with fear in one eye – I couldn't see the microphone. It was like: "I've gone blind with fear, that does really happen."
You have a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival again this year. Are you looking forward to it?
This will be my third one. Yes and no. I'll be fine once I get up there, but it's always very stressful beforehand, previewing it and making sure you have enough material. I always have fun when I get up there. It's a long old festival – four weeks is a long time and I always get homesick by the end.
I'm previewing at the moment. It's still on bits of paper and I record it on my Dictaphone, listen back later and cry to myself. It's a long, drawn-out process.
What's the theme of your show?
It's called Miss Machismo. I was slagged off by Germaine Greer in an article about whether women are funny, and I've used that as a kicking-off point. She described my sense of humour as "astonishingly vicious", along with Joan Rivers, and I was like: "Well, that's it: I've made it – now I can retire." It was basically because I did this quite hard joke about Amy Winehouse which won [the Dave award for] the Funniest Joke at the [2008 Edinburgh] Fringe".
I don't get the idea that, because we [Joan Rivers and I] are women, we shouldn't be able to take the piss out of another woman. It gave me a bit of a swagger and a sense of machismo. The show is kind of about the stupid things that people have said to me while I have been gigging around the country.
Catch Zoe at Pride London on 3-4 July. Her Edinburgh show, 'Zoe Lyons: Miss Machismo', is at the Pleasance Courtyard, from 5-30 August. Ticket line: 0131-226 0000
Arts & Ents blogs
Dennis Hopper's lost sixties photo album found
What are the best first lines in fiction?
EDL Girls: Don't Call Me Racist, BBC3 - TV review: EDL Angel gets into a right muddle
Russell Crowe's Noah banned in three Arab countries before worldwide premiere
Call The Midwife: Jessica Raine leaves in series three finale
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Bad cattitude: Family call police after crazed and 'hostile cat with a history of violence' attacks baby before attempting to 'flee custody'
- 2 Family forced to flee home after discovering 'terrifying' nest of spiders in bananas
- 3 First Kiss: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 5 Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow