Fear of flying
This article is from 2007.
She came largely unscathed through the first series of Survivor, but a quivering Zoe Lyons tells Robin Lee about the thing that terrifies her the most
What’s a person’s greatest fear? Performing a debut solo comedy show at the Edinburgh Festival? Perhaps. ‘I’m actually looking forward to the challenge of it,’ says Zoe Lyons, whose first hour with a Fringe audience is entitled Fight or Flight. ‘It’s about facing the big fears I’ve had in life. Before I started putting it together I emailed a bunch of friends and asked them to tell me what they’re frightened of. Big things like ageing, death – that’s a biggie – failure, nuclear war, snakes, spiders, G-strings. All the important things.’
For someone who’s led a peripatetic life involving a psychology degree, acting school, a reality TV show and long spells of waitressing, one fear looms largest. ‘I talk a lot about the fear of failure. I’ve done a lot of shitty jobs, and when you get to a certain age you think, “where am I going?”’ So has she settled on a career? ‘Yes. I’d always wanted to do stand-up, but I’d been terrified to do it, like most sane people. I got to the age where the fear of not doing it became greater than the fear of doing it, so I did five minutes at an open mic night, and within six months I was playing four or five gigs a week.’
Lyons has also left a reality TV show escapade in her wake, and a bizarre-sounding pilot for a Sudoku gameshow. In the latter, ‘We had a live studio audience and the floor manager going: “Come on! WOOOOO!” It was pretty bad. It was like a Sudoku sheet, but there weren’t numbers, there were faces . . . I don’t even know how it worked. But it was telly; I’m such a whore: “It’s the 100 Greatest Arsehole Farts, I’ll do it! What do you want me to say?”’ The former was the first series of Survivor, where Lyons conveniently placed herself in a pigeonhole for the producers. ‘I can’t really do the black thing, so I did the gay thing. I filled out the form very tongue-in-cheek; a few hints that I might be of the flat shoe-wearing variety. When I went for the interview, they’d circled all the little things I’d put in, suckers! Four months down the line I was on a plane to Borneo. 9/11 screwed my reality career, because that happened just after Survivor came out, and I was like: “of all the bloody . . . you bastard!”’
Zoe Lyons, Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 4–27 Aug (not 8, 15), 8.30pm, £9–£10 (£7.50–£8.50). Previews until 3 Aug, £5.