Hello, Lucy! When did you start getting interested in comedy – was it during university or later?
I’ve always loved comedy…but at Manchester Uni, even though we had a strong comedy pedigree (Ben Elton, Rik Mayall…) there wasn’t much happening comedy-wise when I was there. So I set up the Manchester Uni Comedy Society, although we spent much of our allocated money on booze! In my final year I started visiting comedy clubs, watching and occasionally performing gigs. I never used to tell people that I was a student for fear of animosity, and I used to affect a mildly Northern accent…although I eventually got rumbled after winning a comedy competition. I also did a few gigs at the uni bar, but I was much more nervous about performing in front of my peers.
Are nerves still an issue?
No, I don’t get nervous anymore. I’ve been performing for over twenty years, so it’d be really exhausting to deal with nerves every time I went on stage. In the early days I heavily relied on Dutch Courage, but as you get older your ‘shame threshold’ increases – especially after having children.
That brings us up to the present. You’re currently touring your new show, Consequences. How’s it going, why is it called that, and what can we expect from it?
The tour is going very well so far. Although it’s still just the beginning, so I still have plenty of enthusiasm and energy. Hopefully I’ll still be full of beans by the time I reach Bristol! I always enjoy coming to Bristol; along with Norwich, it’s one of my favourite places to perform. Both cities seem quite spiritually similar and have such relaxed vibes.
I called the tour ‘Consequences’ after writing a letter to my 16-year-old self recently (for a magazine.) It made me realise that nothing has turned out the way I thought it would at that age. The consequences of my actions have led me to some very unintended and unexpected places..! Luckily the whole ‘Consequences’ concept has tied in quite nicely with Brexit. It’s been a reminder that there are always consequences that we cannot foresee.
So expect a tiny bit of politics, a tiny bit of personal revelations, and a lot of chatting to the audience and giving out sweets.
You mentioned Brexit…just one of many reasons why 2016 has been a bleak year. Can we find any humour in these dark times?
All you can do is laugh. Sadly it might not be over yet; things could get much worse after the US elections! I’m trying to be optimistic – like the 52% keep telling us to be – but it’s not easy. It’s been a hard year. But in a way this is why satire and comedy are so important: my introduction to politics was through comedy. We also need comedy for its silliness, in such times of sadness.
Now on a lighter note: what are your favourite and least favourite aspects of touring?
I love doing shows and being in different places around the country. The travelling to and from is my biggest issue…UK transport systems are not the best. Sometimes I get to a gig and all I want to do is moan about trains or roads, but I know that’s the last thing anyone wants to hear! But overall, there isn’t much about touring that I don’t enjoy. In that respect I’m very lucky.
I’ve been looking at everything you’ve done over the years – your CV is very impressive! You’ve done acting, writing, comedy…is there anything you find especially exciting?
I really love doing a mixture of everything. Last night I did a TV panel show, tonight I’m doing a charity quiz, and there’s the tour going on as well. I’m also writing a book, and I’ve recently written a sitcom. It’s just nice to be busy!
Finally, for someone hoping to pursue a career in comedy, what advice can you offer?
My main advice would be to treat comedy as a hobby. Don’t go in with a grand plan. It’s really hard to make money from anything now – there’s so much competition. Just focus on doing it for yourself, and for your own enjoyment. I’d also say: learn to eat well and look after yourself on the road!
Lucy’s tour, Consequences, is coming to Bristol at the Hen and Chicken on 28th October.