Zoe Lyons goes from being God to your funny Valentine at the Spinnaker Tower

Ah, Valentine’s Day – the most romantic day of the year.Except it’s not really, is it?

Saturday, 8th February 2020, 6:00 am
Bigmouth Comedy Festival, Saturday, March 10 2018 - Zoe Lyons knows where to find comedy. Picture: Vernon Nash

It’s the day when anyone in a couple feels obliged to try to make an effort, and things rarely live up to expectation.

Or you’re single, so it’s just a day-long reminder of this fact.

So either way, if you’re looking for something to do around Valentine’s Day, fret not, Comedy at The Tower has it in hand.

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Live at The Apollo and Mock The Week stand-up star Zoe Lyons will be topping the bill, fresh from playing God for seven weeks on stage in Act of God at The Vaults in London.

The part has seen Zoe going back to her roots.

‘I went to drama school before I started doing stand-up – that was my original intention before I realised what an utterly horrific life being an actor was. And I wasn’t getting any casting or auditions, so it was pointless.

‘That’s why I started doing stand-up – at least if you’re writing your own stuff, you can do something.

‘My aim all along was to try to be an actress, but it sort of fell along the wayside. It’s quite nice to come back to it.’

But now she’s got the acting bit between her teeth and would like it to lead to more. ‘I hope so, that’s the plan – that’s why I did it. It was to try to get people to see it and get seen for other stuff.’

And it gained Zoe a Best Female Performance nomination in this year’s Offies (the annual Off West End Theatre Awards) – plus a Best New Play nod for writer David Javerbaum.

‘Yes, that was nice,’ she adds, ‘it’s been totally worth doing.’

So, has the power gone to her head, playing an omnipotent deity for the best part of two months?

‘Playing God hasn’t been much of a stretch for me – it’s come quite naturally,’ she laughs.

But she has had to stretch herself in other ways.

‘Oh god yes, trying to remember 90 minutes of material, specially when it’s not yours is difficult, and you know, i’m knocking on a bit, so the brain cells aren’t what they used to be – that’s been an enormous challenge.

‘So as much as I’ve enjoyed it, I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything else – I’ve been at full mental capacity – I’m full, there’s no room left!

‘There’s no multitasking going on here, this is it, it’s one thing, or nothing.’

With the play over though, Zoe admits that her own attitude to Valentine’s is why she’s willing to work all three nights over that weekend.

‘I’m the least romantic person in the world, and if I wasn’t doing this, I wouldn’t be doing anything else! My partner of 20-plus years knows not to expect anything for Valentine’s, so the offer of three gigs like this will always be taken up.

‘And I live in Brighton – proximity has a very big bearing on whether I do a gig these days. I’ve been doing it for a while now and it’s the travelling that will kill you in the end – it really, really does. When you’re starting out in this job you’re travelling all the time, and in the most miserable ways.

‘About two years ago, I hit a wall and just thought: “I can’t be doing this any more”. Things have changed so much in those 15 years – the road are packed, the trains are packed, it’s horrific.

It’s not lack of ambition that will stop you getting anywhere in stand-up, it’s all the bloody travelling.

‘It’s more about geography than giggles these days!’

But after two months away from stand-up, Zoe has been looking forward to getting back into it.

‘Doing this play, there are two other actors in the play, but it’s predominantly me on stage for 90 minutes, and it’s almost a monologue so it’s taken every bit of me. I’ve not had any space to think about anything else for so long.

‘But it’s been nice to have that break, it stops you from getting stale.

‘I did really want a break from stand-up, you do get bored of the sound of your own material, so it’s been nice, and now I’m looking forward to having some more creative thoughts again.

‘Who knows what I’m going to be talking about on stage in February, if nothing occurs, it’s going to be a very quiet half hour…

‘But there’s no pressure – I’ve been God, everything else is a piece of cake after that.’


The Spinnaker Tower Cafe

February 13-15