You’re touring a fifth solo stand-up show, Pop-Up Comic. Tell us about it …

I have cropped up in some strange places lately including enduring the most buttock-clenchingly embarrassing experience on the Alan Titchmarsh daytime TV show.

Have you ever said yes to something and then embarked on it and thought, “Oh, no, just no!?”

I should not be on daytime TV talking about tattoos with Frankie Cocozza. It was odd and culminated in me envying a disabled dog, that’s all I can say. 

Where’s the strangest place you’ve popped up?

I got a call the other day from a friend who said they’d seen my face on dating website Plenty Of Fish. I had no idea they were using it – it is weird to find you were being used as date bait. 

Was it flattering or not your best pic?

I would have taken action against them had they not thought I was a 31-year-old woman, which I was very happy about. If they are going to knock 10 years off me …

Any others?

I did an ill-judged TV appearance on…

Another? I can see a theme…

Yes. In an age where comedians are killing themselves to get on television, I have ended up on some proper shit.

I did a Christmas version of University Challenge and thought they’d asked me because it was going to be a dumbed down for idiots version.

It wasn’t! I turned up and it was full of scientists – one of my team worked on the Hadron Collider and I can’t work the DVD player.

One of the other girls was a model so I thought “we’ve got a bit of fluff”, but she was also Britain’s highest earning poker player and had a first in astrophysics.

I got a 2:2 in psychology, just – I spent most of my university days heavily stoned. 

Did you get any questions right?

I got a starter for 10, so I can die happy now. I have had that moment, where the guy goes “York University, Lyons…” and I got it right.

What you are not supposed to do in that moment is fist pump the air and mouth “In your face” to Jeremy Paxman. 

Any more TV nightmares?

I did an episode of [BBC quiz show] Pointless Celebrities. I’m very aware of the irony in that context because I’m obviously not a celebrity! Someone must have died the night before.

Let’s just say I wasn’t their first choice – but I was still alive.

There was a moment where presenter Alexander Armstrong [off The Armstrong And Miller Show] said: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your Pointless celebrities,” and he just clocked me in the face.

I did alright though – me and [comedian] Steven K Amos got to the final and beat Toyah Willcox. 

Is talking about your failures awkward?

I find it quite cathartic. Talking about my failures and weaknesses is good for people to hear.

Dealing with success is far easier – dealing with failure is more interesting to talk about.

Are you a bit of a social observer then?

A natural interest in other people is good for a comedian. I love sitting on a bus and listening to other people. You do hear some beautiful things.

What got you started?

I like larking about and making people laugh. I’m pretty clowny in my natural state anyway. 

So how do you describe your style?

Silliness and physical comedy.Who’s your main professional influence?My first exposure wasn’t stand-up but watching Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther movies.

Proper clowning, and that really tickled me and stuck with me.

I was allowed to stay up late and watch them. Some of the clips still crack me up – look up “Does your dog bite?” Classic. [We did. It is.]

What’s been your weirdest on-stage experience?

Everyone has had the experience of dying on stage, that horror never goes away.

I did an outdoor festival gig once where I’d been booked to do half an hour and I didn’t really have half an hour, which became obvious.

The crowd started to boo, but they did it really half-heartedly so I tried to reclaim the moment – I made them do it with full gusto so that I could leave the stage on a proper enthused boo. 

And the best moment?

I’ve done a few shows recently to 2000 or 3000 people, 10-minute spots at galas.

Doing those and nailing them is really good fun. If it goes well, then that feels brilliant.

I’d like to have all my shows like that, and have 3000 people in the room every night!

Zoe Lyons: Pop-Up Comic is on tour nationwide now,
She plays Soho Theatre, Mar 15 & 16. £15 W1D 3NE  
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