Zoe Lyons: Funny lady, funny woman, funny girl!

March 29, 2014

Hizzie Fletcher gets up close and personal with Zoe.

Zoe Lyons
Zoe Lyons

This month’s cover star, Zoe Lyons, created a huge buzz on the comedy circuit in 2004 when she won the Nivea Funny Women Award 2004 and reached the finals of Channel 4’s So You Think You’re Funny Award in the same year.

As a result she has become a highly sought after act on both the national and international circuit as well as being a regular on BBC 2’s Mock The Week and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow. Zoe takes a sideways view of life, picking out the many absurdities and turning them into hilarious routines which she delivers with tremendous energy.

Although Zoe’s career has taken her well beyond her Brighton home she has kept her allegiance to our community with her Bent Double comedy night, which is almost in it’s tenth year. Bent Double is held on the first Sunday of every month, bringing some of the biggest names from the comedy circuit to entertain the “up for it” crowd at Komedia. This night of fun and frolics, hosted by Zoe, offers a brew of comedic delight and a fabulous line up every-time and is a favourite on the Brighton Gay scene.

How did you get into comedy?
“I did my first gig just over 10 years ago now. I had been to Uni and then drama school and I was really struggling to work out what it was I wanted to do with my life. I had always loved watching comedy and I always had this thought that I would try stand up at some point I just didn’t know how to go about it. I started to go to open mike nights to watch new comedians and eventually got the nerve up to give it a go. After my first gig I knew I had found something that I wanted to pursue and that was it… I was away.”

Bent double is about to enter it’s 10th year, what was your original thought process behind the night?
“Chris Green had run a gig at komedia very successfully for years called Screamers. it was a mixed night of stand up comedy and variety type acts and was very much aimed at a gay audience. When he decided that he didn’t want to do it any more Komedia approached me to run a night and Bent Double was born. The show is more stand up comedy based than Screamers was but I have always tried to book acts that I think the predominately gay crowd will enjoy. The gig is a joy to host and I am very proud of the loyal following it has. The greatest compliment for me is when other acts tell me it is one of their favourite gigs to play.”

How has Brighton/ the comedy industry changed in that time?
“Brighton has become a mini hub for comedy over the last 10 years. Not all the new little clubs survive sadly but there are tons of great comedians coming out of Brighton. As stand up has become more popular over the years I guess it is only natural that this city should be nurturing comedic talent. Brighton is a cultural potting shed for all art forms.”

You do a lot of gigs around the UK and beyond, what do you miss about Brighton when you’re away?
“I travel a lot and spend a lot of weekends away and I miss home so badly at times. I can’t tell you the feeling of relief I get every time my train pulls into Hove station. I miss the sea. I think I would find it really hard to move away from the sea now. I just feel very lucky to live here, an easy going city, mere minutes from the Downs, an hour to London and sea lapping at the edges…what is not to like?”

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to enter a career in comedy?
“There is no career path or real structure to this job. I have basically “winged” it for the past 10 years. If you want to get on you have to gig a lot. Do every gig, do good gigs…do really crappy gigs… do them all because it is the only way you learn and get better. Don’t try and copy your comedy heroes on stage, you have to be yourself and that is a lot easier said than done! Also, never agree to do comedy at someone’s Birthday party!”

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
“It’s the travel that will “do you in” in the end with this job so I will need to branch out and try other things. Perhaps writing more for others or a bit of Radio. Like I said, there is no career path as such I just hope my comedic wings keep flapping! I also want to be celebrating Bent Doubles 15th Birthday of course.”

Bent Double
1st Sunday of every month
44-47 Gardner Street, Brighton, BN1 1UN