In Profile: Zoe Lyons
Introducing a new series profiling some of the best acts gigging around Scotland in the coming month
Despite going from absolute beginner to one of the best known and most successful female comedians on the stand-up circuit, Zoe Lyons has described herself as a ‘world class procrastinator’ and it was only at the age of 32, with both a degree in psychology and training at drama school that she decided that stand-up was where her heart truly lay.
Lyons became so anxious before her second performance that she briefly lost the sight in one eye. Undeterred, she gigged solidly and went on to be a finalist in both So You Think You’re Funny? and the BBC’s New Talent competition, and came top in the Funny Women awards just seven months after her first gig.
Lyons is up in Scotland this month for gigs at the Glasgow Stand, including at Swinging Sunday Sparkler as part of Glasgay!. In fact, she's been promoting gay and gay friendly comedy since beginning Bent Double – her own night at Komedia Brighton. She was made a matron of the Pride Festival in 2007 and has featured in The Independent's 'Pink List'. However, Lyons eschews the label of ‘lesbian comedian’ and, like many other comedians of both sexes, tires of the ongoing ‘Are women funny?’ debate.
Lyons attracted controversy in 2008 when Dave awarded her the Best Joke of the Fringe for the line "Amy Winehouse – I find her so irritating, I don’t know why that woman has to self-harm. I can’t believe she can’t find someone to do it for her." This attracted criticism from Germaine Greer, describing Lyons as "having the potential to be astonishingly vicious." In response Lyons accused Greer herself of misogyny and narrow-mindedness:
"Germaine said it was a joke that she thought most women would find extremely unfunny. 'Women' would find it extremely unfunny? That’s just not true and an incredibly patronising thing to say… It angered me, because if a woman takes the piss out of another woman she’s just being a bitch. How dare she! Does she not know how vulnerable we are? But if a man takes the mick out of another guy he’s just 'being a bloke'."
With a lovely, friendly style, Lyons mixes bemused comment on being denoted an 'influential lesbian' with more random anecdotes from her life. Watch out for her at The Stand, Glasgow this month and at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival next March.