Lucy Porter picks her fights wisely these days

Lucy Porter
Lucy Porter
Titanic - The Musical. Picture by Scott Rylander

Titanic The Musical set to have an emotional launch

With her last show, Consequences, stand-up comic Lucy Porter looked back at the impact the choices she had made had ultimately had on her life.

Her current show is dubbed Choose Your Battles – where she examines how to pick the things worth fighting for and those it's better to let go of.

Thematically, it could almost be a sequel, couldn't it?

'It kind of is,' Lucy tells The Guide. 'It’s my ongoing journey to become a better person. All of these shows have the unifying factor of having some kind of psycho-therapeutic benefits for myself and hopefully it will help the audience as well.

'Consequences was my midlife crisis show. It came out of parenting and the difficulties of when you’re dealing with the kids of deciding what’s really important to you.

'When I first had the kids, I had these grand ideals that they were going to be these lovely well-rounded, accomplished, kind, brilliant geniuses and my ambitions have kind of been downgraded.

'They don’t have to learn Mandarin Chinese, as long as they can use a knife and fork, that will do, thank you very much.

'It turns out it’s much harder to get them to basic things like brushing their teeth and putting their shoes on than I had anticipated. That was the leaping off point for this show – me and Justin [Edwards, her husband] deciding what battles to fight.

'Then I turned my attention to Justin himself and thinking about how, if you want to stay married, which I think we essentially do, If you catch us on the right day then we would say we want to stay married, how you do that?

'I think it was Gwyneth Paltrow’s dad who said the secret to a successful marriage is that neither of us wanted to get divorced at the same time.

'That is an absolute gem – thinking about the compromises you inevitably have to make if you want to stay in a monogamous relationship.

'It’s quite an interesting thing for comedy, deciding which things to let go and which things to keep hold of. I’ve done this show in Edinburgh and a few times since and people are always very keen to talk about what annoys them about their partners.'

Amazingly people have been very keen to air the dirty laundry in public at her gigs.

'You get these grievances that have been going on for decades.'

And she's not been afraid to turn the spotlight on herself this time.

'I talk about all the little things that annoy you. I know my constant losing of things really grinds Justin's gears, things like umbrellas, sunglasses and keys – keys particularly are a big source of tension in our relationship. For some reason I cannot keep hold of a set of keys. And little domestic things about loading their dishwasher – we have an ongoing battle which way up you put the cutlery. But these tiny things can add up, if you don’t tackle them. But you don’t want to be constantly fighting about all of these trivial things, when you could be fighting about really big important things!'

From there she broadened her scope.

'I think that’s an interesting thing about relationships, and not just romantic relationships, but with your friends and the wider world, so I broadened the show out to how do you deal with people on social media. How do you decide when to have a fight with someone on Twitter or Facebook?

'My philosophy is more of "don’t engage". When I started the show, I felt like sometimes I’m a bit of a moral coward. If someone’s talking about an issue I have a really strong opinion about on social media, I won’t intervene. I thought doing this show might make more confident about getting involved on social media, but it’s actually done the opposite, it’s made me think I was right all along! It’s pointless having arguments on Facebook and Twitter.

'I think the silent majority of us do just want to be polite and kind and interact in a very superficial way, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

'Superficiality has come to be viewed as such as negative, but it’s such a useful thing for getting your day-to-day life done. I don’t need to know what the woman who waxes my legs thinks about Brexit, and neither does she need to know what I think, that’s not the kind of relationship we have.

'We’ve reached the apotheosis of social-political argument and I think it will all die away a bit, otherwise there’s the danger that we’re all going to be constantly shouting at each other, but nothing is ever accomplished by it. Ultimately we’ll all realise it’s futile arguing on social media and the only way we can really change things is in the real world.'

However Lucy admits, we could be some way from that point at the moment.

'I’ve got friends who love to argue, and for them it’s fine, it really gets their blood up. There are comedians who are brilliant at it on Twitter, and I am not one of those comedians, I am terrible at debating, it’s just not a skill I have, and I get emotional, Justin’s very good and rational, so if we’re talking something through he can very rationally look at the arguments and the data and generally explain to me why he’s right and I’m wrong, but I just get tearful and make a complete fool of myself.

'Anyone who says "calm down" is never going to calm the other person down. You see it all the time on social media, when people say: "Guys, you should all calm down and listen to me." It’s like telling someone they’ve had one too many glasses of wine. You just don’t go there! People being irrational don’t want to be told they’re being irrational and I know that from my experience of being me.'

Does she find herself rewriting arguments after the fact so she won them?

'That’s been my entire stand-up career!' she laughs. 'If you ever see an anecdote of mine on stage where I end it by saying something pithy or winning the day, then that is largely because I’ve rewritten the events to make that happen.

'That’s the beautiful thing about being a stand-up, you can win every argument you’ve ever had.

'I’m always basically truthful in my shows, but in the interest of honesty, truth and balance, there’s a couple of anecdotes that do not reflect well on me at all.'

Doesn't she ever worry about what Justin thinks of her revealing so much about their lives to the world?

'Because of childcare, the beauty of it is, Justin never comes to my shows because he'll be looking after the kids, so with him I can say what I like. That’s why I never record my shows, so they can’t be used by Justin as argument fodder down the line.

'And the same with the kids, they’re never going to know what I’ve been saying about them.'

The original press release for the show makes mention of it including a 'Mary Berry punchbag', however Lucy has since dropped that element of the show.

'It was in the original iteration of the show in Edinburgh. I had these kids punchbags and put masks on them and the idea was that it would be cathartic – you could pinch Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson or Tony Blair, or whoever your particular hate figure is, I had a whole range. And for a laugh I thought I’d put one with Mary Berry on it, because obviously no-one’s going to punch it. But even the concept was too painful for people.

'The idea that anyone could punch Mary Berry in the face was too much and then I gradually took them all out.

'The ethos of the show is about forgiveness and choosing your battles and generally letting things go, and I felt that encouraging people to punch Nigel Farage in the face, satisfying as that was, it didn’t really go with the whole message I was trying to put across.

'Mary Berry is fine, rest assured she remains unassaulted.'

Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham

Saturday, February 3

ashcroft.org.uk