They say write about what you know and, for her first stand-up show, Eleanor Conway has certainly taken that to heart.
Eleanor has, by her own admission, lived a life of extremes: a ferocious party girl, she went around the world as a music journalist, ran off to Asia to work for the triads and Tindered her way through most of London.
Now sober from alcohol and substances, she’s failing to find moderation and meaning.
So, now you are sober, how is that going?
‘Oh God, what a question to open up with,’ she howls down the phone at The Guide. ‘I’m in the middle of a relapse right now. Just kidding,’ she laughs.
Her debut show, Walk of Shame, is about sex, sobriety, Sambuca and the modern addict that lies within us all. Debuting to critical acclaim and packed houses at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer, she’s now taking it out on a national tour.
A guy sent me a video of him in a dirty bath. That’s just weirdEleanor Conway
‘I took this show to the free fringe in Edinburgh, no PR or anything, it’s my first stand-up show, and it just took off, I don’t know how but it did – 200 people coming some nights, it was ridiculous.
‘Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really tough slog. Even if you’re having a good Edinburgh, someone’s having a better Edinburgh, and you’re always comparing and contrasting, and you really can’t. It’s really hard, that idea of envy and jealousy, and thinking what I’ve got isn’t good enough. I found it quite hard to keep my eye on what I was doing.’
With her life and her experiences at the heart of the show, has she found it easy to talk about herself so openly?
‘It just happened because that’s what I had to talk about at that point. Ask me again in a year and I might not feel the same way, but at the moment it’s part of my journey and I’m happy to talk about it.
‘The show’s not just about getting sober, it’s about the extremes I go into my life – I’m extreme in sobriety. I’m extreme anyway.’
While her career as a music presenter was going well, as Eleanor puts it: ‘I got a bit bored of it after a while,’ and she turned her attention to comedy.
‘I had an interest in comedy, and I felt like I wanted to explore it a bit more, I wanted a way to express myself creatively that wasn’t tied to my age. In music, unless you’re Jo Whiley it’s quite hard to continue as a music presenter. And I wasn’t quite enough of a fanatic to be a Jo Whiley or a Huw Stevens or anyone like that, so I felt I needed something a bit frivolous to direct my energy towards, and comedy felt like a fair industry to get into as the music business is ageist, and slimmest. Do I really want to be on a diet for the rest of my life? Not really.’
With clubbing out these days, does she go out much?
‘I just have dinner with friends – it’s very low key these days. It wasn’t very fun towards the end, if I’m honest. That’s generally how people stop – when it’s not fun any more.’
And how about dating? Has talking about it as part of her stand-up had an impacton her love life?
‘I have had a few people asking: “Am I going to end up on stage?” And I’m thinking: “No mate, you’re not interesting enough.” It’s only the absolute nutters I talk about on stage. If they’re nice and normal – nah, but if you send me a video of yourself in a bath tub, you’re going to end up on stage. A guy sent me a video of him in a dirty bath. That’s just weird.
‘I’m not really on Tinder at the moment, I’m trying a new app called “in real life”. You just talk to people, in real life, as you meet them, that’s how this one works.’
Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham
Friday, May 12