Fear of flying

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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.

This article is from 2007.

Zoe Lyons: Miss Machismo

Zoe Lyons thinks it's odd that the Pope has been complaining about the blurring of the genders, given that he dresses in a frock and some pretty red shoes. Hear her discussing this, and many other issues to do with and not to do with gender politics, in her Fringe '09 show, 'Miss Machismo'.

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