ED2011 Columns ED2011 Comedy ED2011 Week0 Edition

Zoe Lyons: Bad bits, best bits

By | Published on Friday 10 June 2011

Award-nominated Edinburgh regular Zoe Lyons on her worst – and best – Edinburgh Fringe experiences.


Rain: Only a fool would expect to come away from an August spent in Edinburgh with a golden tan, but some years the weather really does take the piss. The weather in 2008 was borderline horrific. The rain was biblical and unrelenting. It gave the cobble streets a tinge of medieval misery. People standing in the street flyering were starting to develop trench foot (and this is not an exaggeration!). I did many gigs in jeans that were soaked up to the knee where I had sucked up puddles through osmosis. I took to wearing an anorak and shorts so there was less material to get wet. 2008 was the year I left the Festival with gills.

That one day: It’s guaranteed that every year I do the festival, there is THAT ONE DAY. That day when you can stand the festival and all it has to offer not a second longer. The day when your entire audience appears to enjoy your show as much as they would enjoy an unannounced rectal probe. The day when someone you don’t like bounds up to you and announces that they saw your review and then they make a sucking in of air sound. The day when you learn everyone but you is doing a big gala show. The day someone has ripped down all your posters. This usually happens about 18 days into the Festival and I hate that day.

The student show: Comics, me included, poke fun at the students prancing about the Royal Mile promoting their plays. But I have been one of those prancing idiots. Many moons ago I did a student play on the Fringe, a really heavy piece by Max Frisch about anti Semitism. For three weeks I walked up and down with a hessian sack on my head with my fellow thespians. Every so often we would strike a dramatic pose, screaming at the passers-by from under our sacks. What a monumental prat I must have looked. I would have punched me!


Nomination: I took my first solo show to Edinburgh in 2007 and was nominated for the Comedy Awards’ Best Newcomer gong, and I have to admit I was thrilled to bits. In fact, I celebrated with a glass of fizz in Harvey Nicks, darlings! Doing your first show can be really nerve-wracking, and it was just such a relief to feel that what I was doing wasn’t total crap. Obviously, looking back I realise some of it was crap, but not all of it; and that is the important part, people.

Joan Rivers: One of the things I love about the Festival is that an entire bag of comedy tricks is dropped on the city. People taking their first steps in comedy can sometimes appear on the same late night bill as a comedy superstar. And every now and again you get to see a legend perform. In 2008 Joan Rivers was taking part in the Fringe and I saw her do an hour and half show after midnight in a shockingly hot room and she was awesome. In an industry that can sometimes feel obsessed with skinny-jeaned youth, she is a 78 year old inspiration with a potty mouth.

Doing a cracking late night gig: I tend to do a lot of extra gigs while in Edinburgh and I still get a buzz doing the late night ones. When they go well, that is. There is always an element of ‘danger’ associated with doing late night gigs because they really can go either way: a couple of years ago I remember closing ‘Spank’ at the Underbelly for the first time. I didn’t hit the stage till nearly 3am, and the crowd were hot, and very very drunk. I had a cracking time, and the mixture of relief, adrenaline and a late night bathe in boozy heat is what the Fringe is all about.

Zoe Lyon’s show ‘Clownbusting’ was performed at the Pleasance Courtyard during Fringe 2011.

LINKS: www.zoelyons.co.uk