We caught up with comedian Lucy Porter, 46, whose new Edinburgh Festival Fringe show is all about Brownies and Girl Guides – we talked finding your feet as a comedian, coping with nerves, and greatest inspirations.
Where: 1st Eastcote Scouts, Pinner, London
Hi, Lucy! Were you the class clown at school?
Not at all. The worst thing I ever did was bunk off one day to go to the shops and I got caught and told off horribly by the head teacher.
I’m like the Theresa May of the comedy world, I was such a strait-laced child.
How did you know that you wanted to do comedy?
I loved the comedian Dave Allen. I used to sit with a glass of whisky and a cigarette and do impressions of him – it was the ‘80s and eight-year-old girls were allowed to sit there with a lit fag, it was fine!
I always liked to make people laugh, even though I was quite shy. None of my friends from back then can believe what I do now.
How did you get your big break?
I used to work behind the scenes for Caroline Aherne on The Mrs Merton Show.
She was an angel and brilliant, and one of the most naturally funny people I have ever met.
She encouraged me to give it a try and I thought: “I should, otherwise I’ll spend my whole life wondering.”
How do you cope with nerves when you do stand-up?
In the early days I used to drink. My memories are quite hazy when it comes to my first few gigs, but since I’ve had kids, I don’t get nervous any more.
Childbirth makes everything else seem a lot less scary.
You must miss your children Emily, eight, and John, seven (with husband, actor Justin Edwards, 47) when you’re on tour…
I drive ridiculous distances through the night so I can be there when they go to school – it’s mad! Before I had kids it was different.
After a gig I’d go for drinks and hang out in the pub all night, but now I have to make sure that I go home or I’ll really miss them. Everything changes when you become a mum.
Who are the funniest people out there?
My favourite comedian is Sarah Kendall. I also love Sarah Millican. Jo Brand is still one of my greatest inspirations, too.
What makes you laugh in everyday life?
My cats Midnight and Daisy. I’m a real fan of slapstick comedy and I love seeing people fall over, and we have these two really clumsy, inept cats.
My cat fell off the table today – he was fine, but he was so embarrassed. He really tried to style it out as hard as he could.
How come your new Edinburgh Festival Fringe show is all about Brownies and Girl Guides?
It’s me reminiscing about my days in the Brownies and wondering where the enthusiastic, outdoorsy, resourceful girl who wanted to conquer the world went.
I was in a few different Brownie troops, but because it was in Croydon we were often camped next to syringes and beer cans as opposed to pine cones!
After our chat, Lucy was helping out at her kids’ Beaver group.
She entertains her children backstage at her gigs with an iPad and sweets.
She offered us a lift home after our photo shoot. Aww!
And do your children now go to a similar group?
Yes, I send my son and daughter to Beavers. The word “beaver” really is a gift to a comedian with a show to perform – the phrase “Beaver parade” never gets old.
● See Lucy Porter: Be Prepared at Pleasance Cabaret Bar at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Edfringe.com).
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