Jennifer Smith speaks with Lucy Porter, ahead of her gig at The Library Pub
Lucy Porter’s latest one-woman show, People Person, will appeal to a university audience as it draws upon both her academic background as a student of social anthropology and also her social background as a party animal! A graduate from Manchester University, Lucy no doubt uses these days as an influence for her current show. When asked to give us an insight into this period of her life, she simply responded “Fresh Meat – If you want to know what my life was like as a student, they’ve written it”.
Debuting at the Edinburgh Fringe, Lucy described how her show evolves over the period of the tour; “I get bored doing the same show when I’m traveling around, so there are always new bits and bobs creeping in”. She also tries to cater for specific audiences; “I like to add a bit of local stuff depending on where I am. Although with Leeds, I think I’ve exhausted all my local gags because I’ve played there so many times”. Andrew Maxwell describes the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as ‘the exams for clowns’ and Lucy agrees, asserting, “You write stuff during the year and take it to the Edinburgh Fringe to see if it’s any good. People Person has evolved so much from its original state at the Fringe last year”.
Lucy is not intimidated by an industry which is largely dominated by middle-aged men, believing that the balance is currently being addressed; “It’s so much easier for girls to break into the industry these days. Luckily, the world is changing and young women are a lot ballsier than they used to be. There are loads of great new feminists on the scene now, which I think is great, as I am old feminist now”. I asked her what advice she would give to aspiring young female comedians; “Comedy is a very competitive field for both men and women; there’s still sexism involved but there’s sexism everywhere. My advice to young women aspiring to be comedians would be to go and watch other female comedians as role models”. Amongst Lucy’s own comedy heroes and influences are Claire Dowie and Sean Hughes, performers that she herself has seen live. She states, “When I was growing up it was people like French and Saunders who were around and they inspired me to do things on the TV”. Now it is Lucy who is acting as the motivator, inspiring new comedians of the day, a role she is happy to take on; “It’s great, I now get people coming up to me and telling me they saw me live when they were about twelve, so that makes me feel really old. We all do it to our next generation”.
Like many comedy stand-ups who utilize a personal touch and style, much of Lucy’s material is sourced from her own life experiences, traumas and embarrassments. Aside from her hilarious stand up observations, Lucy also writes for others; “I love writing for other people because it lets me imagine out the life of others. I would have loved to be a man in different circumstances so getting to write for them is the closest I’m going to get. It’s like acting; you get to inhabit someone else’s mind for a while”. She continued, “There are some things I write that I try out and it doesn’t quite work in my voice and then I give it to someone else to work with and it’s great; others sometimes just bring your material to life”.