Zoe Lyons aims to cut the mustard with new UK tour

Zoe Lyons. Picture by Mark Vessey
Zoe Lyons. Picture by Mark Vessey
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Stand-up comedian Zoe Lyons brings her latest critically acclaimed show to Brighton’s Komedia on Sunday, May 17 (8pm).

Mustard Cutter, a high energy show full of sharp observational humour, is touring the UK after a successful run at last year’s Edinburgh Festival.

Zoe describes what it’s all about.

“My stand-up shows have become less and less themed over the years,” she says. “But the loose theme running through this one is the idea of what it is to be better. Or to feel you are better, or to try and better yourself .

“It’s a twist on the saying ‘to cut the mustard’, to be up to scratch, to be of a standard.”

“There are no routines about mustard in the show,” she adds. “I did try to write one at one point and I thought ‘no, we’ll leave that’.”

A familiar face on TV shows like Mock The Week and The Wright Stuff, Zoe is known for her rapid-fire one-liners, spirited delivery and offbeat anecdotes about subjects as diverse as aggressive shopping and gay marriage.

“We kind of look at stuff with a third eye,” says Zoe when she’s asked what kind of real-life events stand-ups like using for comedy.

“Every sort of situation that happens to us in life, be it tragic, be it horrible, you’re constantly trying to look for a way in which you can make it funny or at least turn it into a routine.”

“I think stand-up is slightly twisted in that respect,” she continues. “Something awful will happen to you during a day and you’ll go ‘this is appalling...I wonder if I can make this funny’. Absolutely anything is up for grabs.”

“The more awful, the better,” she laughs. “You get more mileage out of it.”

So will Zoe be mentioning the General Election in her show, seeing as it’s taking place more-or-less around the time she’s touring?

Her answer is probably not, except if she can talk about how boring it all is.

“It’s so bland!” Zoe laughs, explaining that she watches politicians on the news every day, seeking something to hook on to.

“I just want one of them to come up with a ridiculous statement, you know? ‘Ban all balloons on a Monday’. Just something. Just so you can go ‘oh, alright’. At the moment it just sort of washes over me like lift music.”

It’s, perhaps, unsurprising that Zoe finds this mundane build-up to the election dull, seeing as her vibrant career has taken her to exciting destinations like Australia, New Zealand and the Far East.

Interestingly though, after all this impressive travelling, Zoe says she she’s most comfortable in her current home city, Brighton and Hove.

“Oh, I love it,” she says. “I’ve lived all over the place. I grew up in Ireland and Scotland and I lived in London for years and this is the first place that felt like a proper home.”

“It’s a cliché, but in Brighton anything goes,” she states, describing the city’s generally liberal outlook.

The comedy scene’s not bad either.

“It is quite an interesting little hot-house of activity,” Zoe muses. “There’s a real buzz and excitement. It’s such a creative city that you know comedy’s bound to thrive here. I mean, the Fringe Festival is just about to start and the brochure’s packed full of people doing gigs.”

For tickets to the Brighton Komedia show call 0845 293 8480. Zoe hosts a monthly comedy night, Bent Double, at the Komedia. Upcoming dates include May 3 and June 7.

She is also performing as MC for An Evening of Comedy at Christ’s Hospital Theatre, Horsham, on Thursday, May 7 (8pm). Visit www.christs-hospital.org.uk.