“This show got me sober”: Eleanor Conway on being an unapologetic woman

“This show got me sober”: Eleanor Conway on being an unapologetic woman

Covering Tinder, porn and addiction, Eleanor Conway’s debut stand up show, Walk of Shame, doesn’t hold back. Jessica Murray chats to her about how the show has changed her life, and why it’s a great time to be a female in comedy…

Up and coming comedian Eleanor Conway credits her debut stand up show, Walk of Shame, as providing her with the focus she needed to get sober. She’s lived a life of extremes; when she worked as a music journalist for the likes of V Festival and Ministry of Sound she travelled the world, interviewing some of the biggest music stars and partying hard, but developing unhealthy addictions. The thrill of the stand up stage is a new form of addiction, but it has given her the confidence to accept herself for who she is.

Her show is funny and witty, but also an exploration of the vulnerabilities and flaws we all have as humans. “It’s me walking you through my shame that I’ve experienced getting sober. It’s a little bit of a dark show, and I’ve had mixed responses; I’ve had grown men crying, and I’ve had loads of mum hugs. I think at the core of it is a little bit of pain, and there’s quite a vulnerable story in it that people can relate to.”

And undoubtedly the premise of the show is something any 20-something will recognise; the perils and pleasures of Tinder, unhealthy addictions to technology, and that perpetual feeling of not knowing what the hell you’re doing with your life. “It’s almost like an extended adolescence that we have now. I’m in my 30s, I should have a baby and a house but I’m gallivanting around London still.”

‘The premise of the show is something any 20-something will recognise; the perils and pleasures of Tinder, unhealthy addictions to technology, and that perpetual feeling of not knowing what the hell you’re doing with your life’

It’s refreshing to see a young female comedian so honest and open about the struggles and difficulties of finding your feet in this day and age; young people can’t afford to buy a house, and increasing globalisation has lead to more opportunities for travel, but this encourages a casual lifestyle of fleeting relationships and cheap thrills.

And this is something Eleanor knows only too well, “I moved to Asia with a guy that I’d just met , because ‘I know what’s going to make this relationship last, moving 6000 miles away with a guy that I barely know.’ That’s absolutely insane! I’m just being unapologetic about who I am. I think we’re all people, and we’re all flawed, and I think especially women, we’ve got to tick all these boxes haven’t we?”

‘I’m just being unapologetic about who I am. I think we’re all people, and we’re all flawed, and I think especially women, we’ve got to tick all these boxes haven’t we?”

Eleanor was just one of millions of unapologetic females who took to the streets as part of the global Women’s March against Trump’s misogyny and harmful policies, “[I marched] because every woman I know, including myself, has either felt fearful when walking home at night, or has been physically or sexually assaulted at some level. It’s up to me and it’s up to every woman to make a stand against that. It’s not that we hate men, we love men, but that man, and what he’s saying, it’s not right and it shouldn’t be encouraged. It’s the first march I’ve ever been on, and I feel very passionate about it.”

She thinks the frank and fearless nature of her show goes against Trump’s perception of how women should behave. “He would think that I was a lower class of woman maybe, not the marrying kind. But that’s ok because I don’t want to marry Trump!”

But despite the need for a global protest movement campaigning for women’s rights, Eleanor thinks it’s a great time for women and minorities in the comedy circuit in the UK. For the first time in a long time, the age of the ‘40-something, white, middle aged bloke’ dominating the comedy circuit is coming to an end, as more diverse acts increase in popularity.  “It’s a really good time to be a woman in comedy. Before when a female comic came on there would be an eye roll, but now it’s like ‘Ooo we want to hear what this girl’s got to say’. There’s so many good female comics coming up on the scene, Katherine Ryan for example, and Luisa Omielan.”

“It’s a really good time to be a woman in comedy. Before when a female comic came on there would be an eye roll, but now it’s like ‘Ooo we want to hear what this girl’s got to say.’’

Eleanor described her comedy style as quite masculine – “I don’t take any shit in the comedy club”. She went on, “You had that wave of female comedians back in the 90s, like Jo Brand and Jenny Eclair, who were quite sexually aggressive, but I’m glad the climate now allows us to be a bit more honest and varied in the experience we share on stage. We’re just people that happen to be women. I think everyone can relate to that.” Women don’t have to emulate their male counterparts on stage to be successful and they’re no longer defined as ‘female’ comedians; yes they’re women, but they’re so much more than that.

Eleanor will be bringing her show to The Hyde Park Book Club in April, returning to her university city where she studied at Leeds Beckett and Leeds College of Music, worked on the LSR breakfast show, and found a heroin syringe in her back garden in Hyde Park. She’s lived a whirlwind life since leaving the city, and is looking forward to coming back and passing on all that she’s learnt. “If you want to see what not to do, come and see my show.”

Catch Walk of Shame at Hyde Park Book Club on Friday 5th May.

Jessica Murray

(Image courtesy of Eleanor Conway)

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