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I TALK TO Zoe Lyons

11 years on from her debut hour, comedian Zoe Lyons is bringing her eighth hour Entry Level Human, to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe before embarking on a 42-date UK tour.

© Mark Vessey

This is your eighth Edinburgh hour in 11 years, what keeps you coming back?


I suppose you use Edinburgh differently as you go through your career. When you first start out, you go to Edinburgh because it's where everybody is and it's a great place for newer comics to be seen.


I don't fall into that category anymore, so for me it's about being part of something and feeling relevant. It's the biggest trade show in comedy in the world so it's good to get some of your wares and stick them out on a stall!


In the years where you haven't been, did you feel like you were missing out?


Yes and no. I felt like I was missing out on some of the good stuff... but also a lot of the admin horror that goes with it. So I'm never totally bereft to not be there. The last few years I've done one on one off. That works for me. That's great.


Does that mean you spend two years working on each show?


I have time off. To be honest, I think I went through quite a dry patch of material so you get to the January before Edinburgh and that's where you go "Right, I need to start jotting stuff down on paper now". It's usually from the beginning of the year that I start to put things together.


It's funny to say "writing a show" because a lot of it just gets worked out on stage. I don't know how a lot of it occurs to be honest. It just does.


You've got a great title this year, Entry Level Human, why did you decide on that title?


It's a light piss take on human stupidity... I think there's quite a lot of it about! (Laughs) Do you know where the idea came from?


I was watching people in the airport getting their stuff off the security conveyor belt and humans really like to make things harder for themselves. You know when it comes off and there's a lovely guy there going "Just take your tray off the belt so that more trays can come down" and the person just doesn't get it.


I find it fascinating! But we're all entry level on some level, so it's also taking the Mickey out of myself of course.


What can people expect then when they come and watch the show?


It's not got a really strong narrative arc to it at all. It's tales of my travelings and the people I've encountered. Of course Brexit gets a mention. It'd be rude not to. It's not going away is it? It's the gift that keeps giving!


I've just decided that I'm going to be an independent state of me. And therefore I can't be affected by any of those decisions because I no longer consider myself a citizen of this shit! (Laughs)


So there'll be some topical stuff in there but it's never earth shatteringly life-changing. All I aim for is vaguely entertaining for roughly 55 minutes. That is my sole purpose. If I can get some laughs out of it, then great.


How have the previews been going?


Oh, OK! I've had classic previews where I've gone "Well this is an absolute pile of rubbish. I don't know what you were thinking!" and then you do another one and you go "You've got a show! You've got a show!" and then you do three more in a row where you go "You had a show but I don't know where it's gone now!"


I've still got a few to go so I think it'll be fine. Although, I had a proper anxiety dream last night where I was doing my first show in Edinburgh and the whole audience were just looking at their phones. It was such a vivid dream. I went "Are you not enjoying this?" and they just went "No. It's just not very good is it?"


Do you still enjoy Edinburgh now as much as you did when you started going?


I enjoy parts of it. I'll be brutally honest. It's a week too long. That last week just grinds my gears. But for a period of time you're in a city where all of your peers are, you're never on your own.


There's always someone to chat to, there's always something to see, there's something new and exciting to keep you entertained. So that part of it I really enjoy. You've got everything you could want available to you which is a very lucky position to be in.


It's just that as I get older I get a bit more homesick you know? A month is too long. We've got nothing to prove after three weeks. That's the only downside.


You're taking the show on tour after Edinburgh. What's your favourite thing about touring?


It's the audiences that have come to see you. You do also get to see some marvellous town halls and art centres. There are some lovely places around this country that are just run with real love and lovely lovely little venues.


I like that aspect of it, but again it's the being on the road and away from home that's a bit hard. I think we've planned this one so it's not too long stretches. So at least I can touch base every now and then.


Outside of the Fringe and the tour, what are you working on?


I have a little radio show on Radio 4 coming up in September/beginning of of October. It's about me getting my Irish passport post-Brexit. I've just been over to Ireland to do a load of interviews with people as a thank you for the dual citizenship! Thank you for the freedom of movement.


So we're in the process of putting that together and then I'm in the next series of Celebrity MaterChef so that comes out in September! That's in the bag. I can't say how I did but it was great fun and really really terrifying. You think it's only cooking and it'll be alright but it's terrifying and you think "Why am I here?! I'm not a chef!" You put all this ridiculous pressure on yourself but I loved it. Great fun.


How would you sum up your show in just five words?


It will be finished soon.


Zoe Lyons: Entry Level Human runs from 1st - 26th August at 5:45pm at Gilded Balloon Teviot (Dining Room). Book tickets here.

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