ZOE LYONS (BRIGHTON)
AE: When did you start doing stand up?
ZL: I did my first gig in August 2003 in the lovely King’s Head Comedy Club in North London. It was 5 minutes of utter rubbish but it felt great to finally do a gig.
AE: The thought of getting up and trying to make people laugh would terrify most, what makes you do it?
ZL: It terrifies me sometimes. But there is this internal drive to write material and get up on stage and make people laugh. It’s the best feeling when you are having a storming gig and it all fits and you feel like you can’t fail. Laughter is the most delicious sound in the world, who wouldn’t want to bathe in it?
AE: Have you had any interesting heckling moments? How did you respond?
ZL: I was doing gigs in the Middle East to expats and a guy shouted out: “I didn’t pay to listen to a lesbian.” I responded by saying I was surprised as he looked exactly like the sort of guy who would have to pay any woman to talk to him. It was a bit odd as I hadn’t even mentioned being gay…. think my shoes betrayed me.
AE: Before you became a stand up, you were on one of the UK’s original reality TV shows Survivor. What was that like and if you had to go on another (had to or die) which would it be — Big Brother, I’m A Celeb or Dancing on Ice?
ZL: Ah yes Survivor… some of my finest work. It was really tough and I lost about 20 pounds in a month but I survived almost to the end. But the hunger, rats and snakes I could cope with, it was the other contestants that were the real challenge. The phrase “hell is other people” is very true, but I did learn a lot about myself. I am a dab hand with a spear when it comes to fishing sting- ray and I am a “head down” get on with it sort of person.
If I had to do another reality TV show… dying would be my first choice. I couldn’t do Dancing on Ice as I have no sense of balance. It would have to be BB but I would get myself evicted straight away because long periods in that sort of environment messes with your head.
AE: There are not many out lesbian comedians in the UK. There is a stereotype that lesbians are just not that funny but what reasons would you give for so few of them getting into comedy?
ZL: There a fewer women in comedy, therefore it goes that there are fewer out lesbians in comedy. I think it is a statistical thing rather than anything else. The stereotype of the angry, humourless lesbian is just that… a lazy stereotype. Sure we’ve all met one but hell; there are a lot of angry humourless straight folk out there too.
AE: You have officially been named as an influential gay (by Independent on Sunday in 2009), how did this make you feel?
ZL: I spat my coffee out when I saw it. I was only 5 points behind Elton John… next year Elton!
AE: Last year you incurred the wrath of Germaine Greer which inspired you to write a whole new show. What was her problem and did you hear if she liked the resulting show?
ZL: She described my humour as being astonishingly vicious after she heard about a joke I made about Amy Winehouse. She said it was a joke most women would find extremely unfunny, which just wasn’t true and in fact it won the joke of the Fringe in 2008.
I thought it was very strange for a feminist to suggest that women cannot dish out or take jokes about each other. It suggested that that we are the fairer sex and we need to be gentle with each other and wrapped in cotton wool. It was no surprise that there was no follow up on what she thought about last year’s show.
AE: Congratulations on your civil partnership. One of our favorite jokes (Warning: some language in the video clip is NSFW) of yours was about the nightmare of having two brides on a wedding day. How is married life different from just cohabiting?
ZL: I am not a romantic, my mother reminds me of my anniversary so I don’t forget. I don’t believe in love at first sight and I don’t believe in “the one.” Having said that, on the day of our ceremony, I blubbed like a baby. It was a wonderful day surrounded by family and friends. My wife is a wonderful support and the most patient woman on the planet with me. Has it changed how I feel from cohabiting? It is good to know we have rights now… told you I wasn’t a romantic!
AE: You once caused a big fight between us because Sarah got the times wrong and instead of sitting in your audience in Edinburgh 2008, we were still outside drinking Jack Daniels talking about how good your show would be. What was the best joke that we missed that year?
ZL: That was the year of the Winehouse joke… phone Greer and she’ll fill you in.
AE: Who are your own comedy heroes – and how long would you ‘have a face on’ if your wife made you miss one of them?
ZL: Robin Williams. I was lucky enough to be performing at a gig when he just “popped” down to try some stuff before his London run last year. And I do love Joan Rivers; there would be a domestic if I missed Joan.
AE: Where can our readers see you perform?
ZL: I am doing a small national tour this year including a date at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London on the April 8. All my dates are on my website.
AE: How can our readers keep up with you? (facebook/twitter?)
ZL: I have a Facebook page.
"Great LezBritain" authors Sarah, a Londoner, and Lee, a Glaswegian, met in a gay discotheque one bleak mid winter, eight years ago and have been shacked up together ever since. When not watching Tipping The Velvet, they find time to write, run a PR company, DJ at their own club nights and love a bit of jam on toast. Follow them on Twitter at greatlezbritain.