Q&A with Zoe Lyons

Zoe Lyons, comedian and York alumna, answers questions from

Zoe Lyons

I studied Psychology at York from 1989 to 92. I have to admit I wasn’t the most studious of students. I think I got a little over excited about being away from home for the first time – I was very easily distracted! I joined lots of sports clubs: I played women’s rugby and under water hockey! I also spent lots of time doing plays. Those are some of my happiest memories.

In 1992 I went to the Edinburgh Festival with some other students from York. We did a very serious Max Frisch play at the Fringe. It was directed by David Grindley, a York English graduate. The lovely thing is we are working together again at the moment after all these years, on another production going to the Festival this year.

I like working with Andy Parsons. Mock The Week can be a very competitive situation but I have always found Andy to be a very supportive and generous comic on the show.

I really do like playing big rooms. I don’t get the opportunity to do it that often but when I do I love it. I did a Gala show a few years ago in Melbourne and it was a fabulous theatre. I just find it great fun to walk out on stage in front of 3,000 people; it gives me a real buzz!

The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career is my own doubts and fears. But I think that is very common with people who do what I do. Most performers I know have been crippled with self-doubt at some point in their career. I have found that one of the nice surprises to me about getting older is that I am losing the fear more and more as time goes by. I guess you genuinely reach a point where you think, well …what’s the worst thing that can happen?

I don’t think that there are any limits to what can be talked about by comedians. We all use humour to get over adversity, grief, fears. I guess it all depends on what the intention behind the joke is.

I have no idea at all what I would be if I wasn’t a comedian. I don’t think I could work in an office; I find it very difficult to give a shit about mission statements and targets. I am not cut out for promotion ladders and motivational days out. I think I might work in same way with nature – I like being outside.

I once got given an etching of my own face. It was sweet but disturbing in equal measure.

The funniest film I’ve seen is Team America. This is going to sound very low brow but there were scenes in that film that are amongst the funniest ever in my opinion. The dicks, pussies and assholes speech gets me every time. I love Tina Fey as a writer, 30 Rock was brilliant.

I would invite Grace Jones, Tilda Swinton and Hugh Jackman to a dinner party. We would eat steak and drink vodka martinis straight up with a twist.

Comedy awards are lovely but you have to take them with a pinch of salt. I am still proudest of my runners up rosette I got at the age of 11 at my riding class. I was always being told I rode like a cowboy and this pleased me immensely.

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