Zoe Lyons gearing up for gig at The Roses in Tewkesbury
Comedienne Zoe Lyons tells Emma Allsebrook how it feels to be upstaged by a disabled dog – and how she survived the embarrassment of starring in a reality TV show
IT'S the stupid things in life that draw the attention of award-winning comedienne Zoe Lyons.
One-footed pigeons and motion-sensor air fresheners, coupled with the Church of England for allowing gay bishops as long as they're celibate, is all but a small portion of Zoe's satirical and hilarious show.
The energy-packed Pop Up Comic will be Zoe's third solo tour and premieres at The Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury next week.
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Ever wondered how it feels to be upstaged by a disabled dog on daytime TV? Zoe knows. But that isn't where it all began.
After a year of doing open mic nights, she was determined to make comedy her full-time job.
"I had nothing to fall back on, there's nothing like having no safety net to move you forward," she says.
"There's no real career path for comedy, so I think I did reasonably well.
"You have to go through the apprentice period of doing 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there.
"I was reasonably lucky that within four to five years I was up and running and I thought I'd done quite well."
Zoe's material is non-gender specific and it's never been what she would call 'female comedian's material'.
"I find inspiration in really stupid things to be honest. I mean the more stupid the better".
From the satirical to the silly to the downright stupid, the subject matter of Zoe's show, refreshingly, flits from one subject to another.
"I'd love to be smart enough and satirical enough to cleverly discuss the economic situation, but I'd just get myself into such a pickle that I'd be standing there looking slightly embarrassed.
"It's better to stick at what you're best at."
Winner of the Funniest Joke at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008, the Pop Up Comic is sure to leave you belly laughing for its entirety. But what kind of audience makes Zoe tick?
"I enjoy whatever audience will come and watch my show. It's very competitive out there, getting bums on seats in your show is a bonus, so you've got to keep it real," she said.
"I've done gigs in rooms with 3,000 people and that can feel amazing, but I've also done exciting gigs with 80 people.
"I turned up at a gig the other day and I really wasn't expecting much.
"I thought this thing is going to be rubbish, but I turned up and it was this beautiful little cavernous basement venue with low lighting and little tables, like a classic comedy venue and it was just beautiful.
"Eighty people in there and you can't beat that."
TV credits to Zoe's name include Mock the Week, Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow and The Wright Stuff.
But some day she would love to turn her hand to sitcoms.
"I'd love to perform in one, purely because doing stand-up is quite a lonely profession. Sometimes I think it would be nice to work with other people and have a cup of tea and a chat over a biscuit.
"They're [sitcoms] notoriously difficult to get right. They get them right in America because they have huge teams of writers working on them, they do it so much better than we do."
Growing up, Zoe was inspired by American comedians like Robin Williams and Steve Martin.
In a world where it seems female comedians are undergoing a revolution, Zoe believes little has changed.
"We're still at the point where we can note female comedians. Until you get to the point where you don't have to mention that there are more women on TV it's still an issue."
Something you may not know about Zoe is her appearance in 2001 reality TV show, Survivor.
"I got on that show by making a bet to myself that I could get on it. I saw an advert in The Guardian.
"I was bored and thought, I bet I can get on that. When I put my mind to it, I can be dangerous.
"I was so not fit, I mean a lot of the people on that show were really fit and I properly lied about my fitness.
"I lasted so long because of the gift of the gab, I talked myself out of many situations."
Zoe took part in Survivor before her success as a comedian: "I didn't want to be associated with it, so I left it two years before I attempted comedy."
"Because it was the beginning of reality TV and it didn't do brilliantly well, it was a blessing in disguise because it meant I could get away with being on it."
Tickets for her gig next Wednesday cost from £9. Call 01684 295074.