Edinburgh Fringe Review: Zoe Lyons, Gilded Balloon

Zoe Lyons is one of the comedy circuit’s most reliable stand-ups, loved by both fans and fellow professionals. In fact last year her peers voted her Comedian's Comedian. So there is never any doubt that the eminently skilful Brighton resident is going to be funny. But can she add that extra something to be a contender for a major award in Edinburgh, where the judges invariably look for that little sprinkling of conceptual fairy dust?

Well she certainly comes close. Little Misfit does have an interesting theme - Lyons starts by admitting that she has always been a bit of an outsider. The difference is that whereas this used to be difficult when she was younger, now that she is in her mid-forties she feels happy with herself - even if she suspects that this might be a brief window of happiness before decrepitude sets in.

This is a handy and pretty original peg on which to hang some very funny routines, from growing up Catholic to reflections on the state of the nation and the rise of tribalism. Lyons does a deliciously mean, in every sense, impression of Theresa May as a shape-shifting reptilian leader - David Icke may well enjoy that section as much as the audience last night did. 

As the set moved on, however, it occasionally drifted into slightly more generic observational material that felt as if it had come from her club set and been stitched together. Which is not to say that it didn’t work. It was still funny, it was just that if this had been Just A Minute she might have been buzzed for deviation. There was some particularly great stuff here about her elderly dad trying to master his iPad, with Lyons suddenly realising that she had no idea how the internet functioned herself when she tried to explain it to him.  

Trump, a visit to Amsterdam, massages, nuns and a trip to Egypt were also among the subjects that generated considerable merriment. One routine, about how the British cannot resist dumping rubbish near a bin had an unexpected pay-off and set up a neat running gag.

And just to show how sharp Lyons is, one of the biggest applause breaks came from a bit of business that didn’t even seem to be in the script, about how the Irish village she grew up in was so small their home phone number was “5”. Lyons only seemed to come out with this because there was someone from Tipperary in the audience. If it is in the nightly script she did a great job of making it look spontaneous. And if it isn’t in the nightly script maybe it should be.

For sheer start-to-finish laughs Little Misfit is an excellent show. It is classic entertaining stand-up really rather than anything chin-strokingly high concept but, for God’s sake, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you want guaranteed giggles Lyons is a misfit that perfectly fits the bill.

At the Gilded Balloon until August 28. Tickets here.


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