If.comedy best newcomer nominee Zoe Lyons talks to Sandra Marron about Glasgow humour and the joys of performing in an all-female line-up at Glasgay!
The Glasgay! comedy wagon rolls back into town this year with a cargo of comedic talent for your pleasure. Wicked Wenches features Lucy Porter, AL Kennedy, Susan Calman and the utterly charming Zoe Lyons, a finalist on Channel 4’s So You Think You’re Funny. Going on reputations alone, an evening of the side-splitting variety seems guaranteed.
Lyons is notably the only gay woman in the line-up, but feels this has no real significance when it comes to her comedy. ‘I don’t necessarily talk about being gay onstage because it’s an aspect of my life but it isn’t my entirety,’ she says. ‘I can do 30 minutes, 40 minutes without even mentioning it. If I do, I hope I do it in a really light-hearted way.’
When Lyons does talk about the ‘g’ word onstage, she avoids the usual unimaginative jokes such as the one about the lesbian bringing a removal van on her second date. ‘I’m gay, I take the piss out of myself; I take the piss out of gay people; I take the piss out of everything and I hope I do it in such a way that people leave thinking: “Okay we have more in common than we have differences”.’
The all-female line-up is rare on the comedy circuit and Lyons admits that it can be hard being a female stand-up. ‘I think a lot of people think that if you’re a female comedian then you are automatically a bitter angry woman. It’s just not like the cliché of the man-hating lesbian comedian.’
Lyons has been on the circuit for just four years, performing her first solo show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe which earned her a best newcomer nomination for the If.comedy awards – an accolade she describes as ‘such a delight, a real delight and I was genuinely surprised. I don’t know if you have ever been genuinely gobsmacked, it’s the most beautiful thing. I cried like a baby when I found out.’
Having spent her youth in Glasgow, Lyons is very attuned to Scottish humour and Glasgow audiences. ‘The thing about Glasgow is, the average person you meet on the street is far funnier than I’ll ever be. I’ve worked in factories in Glasgow with women on package lines who are hilarious. It’s just in the rhythm, the use of language. It’s poetry and it’s in the way they speak. They are very, very funny people.’
Lyons is looking forward to being in front of a gay audience again at Glasgay! ‘My audience is predominantly made up of large bearded men in vests and they are just fabulous. Great fun. You can get away with murder – they really are just up for a laugh.’