How We Met: Zoe Lyons & Kerry Godliman

'She'd say, "Come on, yank yourself up and keep going!" Then I'd have a cry'

Zoe Lyons, 41

Since emerging on to the stand-up scene in 2004, the award-winning comedian (left in picture) has toured the world with her caustic shows. She has also appeared on 'Mock the Week' and 'Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow'. She lives in London with her partner.

We'd heard of one another before we met. For me, there was an element of threat about Kerry; I kept thinking: how good is she? We were both at a comedy night called Lipstick and Shopping, in 2005, run by Miranda Hart, and we instantly liked each other; there's been no jealousy there ever since.

We went to the Edinburgh Festival together after that. It was my first time and it was hard work: dealing with small audiences every day, going out after to leaflet potential punters. We'd hang out together between gigs so we could say to one another, "Oh god, did that really happen?" and also so Kerry could have someone's shoulder to cry on.

We shared houses in Edinburgh after that, in 2007 and 2008. You know when Kerry is in the house as she fills a room – or any space you put her in. That's why she so good on stage: she's boisterous and highly vocal.

Since then we've rarely crossed paths professionally, as it's rare to get more than one woman on a bill – promoters get nervous about it. The reason is simple: people are startlingly stupid. When Kerry and I see each other with our respective partners, they have to sit there while we bitch and moan about it for hours.

I met Kerry's mum at her wedding seven years ago. She's a bit of an old hippie and there's bit of that in Kerry, though she struggles with it, as she's quite frenetic: you should see Kerry doing yoga; she finds it hard to keep still.

She can be a little ballsy. She's comfortable asking people to do things for her that I'd never dream of: look after this, buy that, take that there for me.

I thought she stole the scene from Ricky in [Gervais's BBC sitcom] Derek. Her timing was impeccable. I loved it in the pilot episode when she head-butted a woman, spun on her heel and walked away; it was done so beautifully.

Stand-up is a solitary job, and swathes of my day are swamped in self-doubt; I'm often dipping a toe in depression. Kerry puts things in perspective; she's like my release hatch, and one of my best friends.

Kerry Godliman, 42

An acclaimed stand-up, Godliman has also carved out an acting career, appearing in TV series including 'Getting On' and 'Derek'. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

In 2005, there was a women-only stand-up gig that Miranda Hart used to book, back when there weren't that many women-only gigs. And it's where I first saw Zoe. She had this striking tattoo all over her right arm. She had a tot of energy and I took to her straight away.

It was going to Edinburgh the next year that made us friends. I was a bit scared about going, knowing that if I didn't do Edinburgh, I'd never move on. I was dithering, but as she's a lot braver than me, she said, "You really should have a crack at it," and we went up together. We hung out a lot up there: you need a support network when performing at the Edinburgh Festival.

I admire her work ethic. We live different lives, but I like to think of her as an [alternate-reality] version of me: she does the international circuit and travels around the world, performing in Australia, Dubai, all over. I don't, as I have a young family.

She has quite a following down in Brighton, where she plays gay gigs. She's like a rock star and her audience loves her; it's a delight to watch her play the room. She's an excellent joke writer, too, and she's given me jokes for topical panel shows; she's very generous like that.

I think she used to be very intolerant. She certainly wouldn't indulge me when I felt sorry for myself. I remember being back at our shared flat in Edinburgh and feeling hard done-by after I'd had a string of bad gigs. She'd say, "Come on, there's three million comics in this town: yank yourself up and keep going!" Then I'd have a cry. But she's softened since and she's a lot more laid-back these days.

I love the comedy circuit, but Zoe is my only real-life comedy friend, and we've both been to one another's weddings. I was over the moon to be invited to hers: it was my first gay wedding. Zoe looked lovely and was very emotional. So much of our industry is about being a smart arse, so it was wonderful to see my friend the comic being sincere. She was moved, and in love, and there was no gag at the end of it all. I know comedians who've had comedy weddings, where the whole wedding was an act. It makes me think, Christ, I don't want to be around them when the laughter stops.

Godliman's new sketch show, 'Kerry's List', will air on Radio 4 at 11.30am on 29 April. Lyons will be performing at Edinburgh this summer; for more of her upcoming gigs, visit zoelyons.co.uk

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