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Comedian Zoe Lyons brings the house down at The Roses in Tewkesbury with her Pop Up Comic tour

By thebuzz  |  Posted: February 22, 2013

Zoe Lyons is on tour with her Pop Up Comic show

Zoe Lyons is on tour with her Pop Up Comic show

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There's no knowing where comedian Zoe Lyons will pop up next - well, actually, tonight it will be Reading.

But, other than her current UK tour schedule which pinpoints her precise movements for the next five weeks, you never know where Zoe Lyons will pop up next.

As the self-effacing yet brilliantly acerbic Ms Lyons herself asserts, she pops up in the oddest places, and on the oddest TV shows - the most recent being theAlan Titchmarsh Show where, having endured a rather traumatic TV appearance that hadn't gone quite the way she had hoped, she was struck inexplicably by the most bizarre feeling of professional jealousy backstage.

"All people, whatever professsion they're in, suffer from it from time to time," apparently. But professional jealousy of a 'messed-up', deaf, one-eyed, one-eared, diabetic dog with one kidney and wheels for back legs? It's a long story - and one that Zoe recounted hilariously at the Roses Theatre last night.

The comedian's self-effacing yet caustic style of observational comedy and true-life experiences had the audience in a constant, fluctuating state of laughter - ranging from gentle chuckles and guffaws to bent-double, full-on belly laughs.

Despite having played Tewkesbury three or four years ago, she declared that The Roses' Bar venue was a new experience for her - "performing in a foyer to people sitting in garden furniture" being a bit of a first for the comedian who has entertained audiences at all manner of weird and wonderful venues on the live comedy and festival circuit.

"Tewkesbury's lovely, isn't it?" she asked a nodding audience. "Full of buildings you don't see very often... I see Blockbusters is still open."

If you don't recognise the name, you'll probably recognise the face, as the acerbicmistress of the one-liners has become a regular on TV shows such as Mock the Week, Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, The Paul O'Grady Show and The Wright Stuff, and on talking-head style list shows such as The Alternative Review of the Year, Most Annoying People and Most Annoying Couples

She has featured on Comedy Central's Comedy Store, is a festival favourite across the globe - including Edinburgh, Melbourne and New Zealand - and is a regular on the airwaves as a guest on radio shows such as Jo Caulfield Won't Shut Up, Clive Anderson's Chat RoomThe Sandi Toksvig Show, The Caroline Feraday Showand, most recently, Gloucestershire's very own SevernFM - no doubt the icing on Ms Lyons' cake!

In last night's 90-minute show the half-English, half-Irish comedian who grew up in Scotland, shared her wealth of hilarious life experiences and personal anecdotes which, over the past 41 years, have come to shape the woman that we saw standing before us.

Stories such as how she had a Slinky for her eighth birthday when "we lived in a bungalow!"

How useless her degree in psychology proved to be: "After all, there's only so much you can do in life knowing about a dog, a bell and a pavlova.

"You stick a meringue in front of an Alsatian and it's going to dribble!"

We learned how her dreams of Olympic swimming glory were left in tatters due to her pathological hatred of verruca pools, the verruca sock (aka "the foot condom of shame") and - Zoe's personal Room 101 - the public pool changing room: "The only place in Britain where people still use talc."

Then she arrived at that one, unavoidable fact of life that comes to us all.

"I'm not scared of dying - I'm scared of dying like a d**k," she proclaimed, before recounting a hilarious tale of how she recently became stuck in her own anorak.

"The last time any adrenaline coursed through this sad sack of a body was when I became trapped in my own Berghaus," she laughed, going on to describe how, in the grip of pure panic, she'd assessed the variety of extreme measures she may have to resort to in order to free herself - including cutting her own head off.

"Of course, the most tragic part of this tale is that I own my anorak," she quipped. 

It's been a long time since I spent a full 90 minutes laughing - my cheeks were killing me by the time Zoe took her curtain call.

Being a woman at a similar stage in life, I guess I could identify a few of my own hang-ups and idiosyncrasis in Zoe's semi-autobiographical observations.

However, Ms Lyons not only appeals to 'women of a certain age'. With an audience comprising at least 50 per cent men and a good smattering of young folk - defined in my book as being people under the age of 30 - it was apparent from the amount of belly laughs and the resounding applause her performance garnered, that her self-deprecating anecdotes and razor-sharp observations resonate with a broad cross-section of people - including SevernFM host Andy Clarke, who was sitting at my table.

Zoe Lyons' Pop-Up Comic Tour continues apace in Reading tonightTo find out more about Zoe and her tour, log on to her website.

Mandy Pellatt

* The Roses Theatre has a crammed programme of comedy, music events, theatre, live screenings, workshops and exhibitions. To find out what's on at The Roses this season, visit the theatre's website.

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