Zoe Lyons: Stand-up, Passport Paddies, Just A Minute and Gingsters

December 17, 2020 00:58:35
Zoe Lyons: Stand-up, Passport Paddies, Just A Minute and Gingsters
The Plastic Podcasts
Zoe Lyons: Stand-up, Passport Paddies, Just A Minute and Gingsters
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Show Notes

One of the country’s leading stand-ups, Zoe Lyons tones’ have been heard on everything from Clive Anderson’s Chat Show to Just A Minute. A fixture on the comedy circuit, her 2007 debut show “Fight or Flight” saw her nominated as Best Newcomer at Edinburgh Fringe. A second generation member of the diaspora, she recorded a personal documentary series “Zoe Lyons: Passport Paddy” for Radio 4 in 2018.

2021 will see her game show, “Lightning” broadcast on BBC2.

Plus Dame Elizabeth Anionwu raises Conrad Bryan onto The Plastic Pedestal

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:01 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:00:21 How you doing my name's Doug Giovanni. And you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. Find us and subscribe to [email protected] for the next 50 minutes or so imagine you're listening to something classy on radio four. It's a fantasy made all the easier by my guest today. Zoe lions, one of the country's leading stand-ups Zoe's tones have been heard on everything from Clive Anderson's chat show to just a minute. She's a fixture on the stand-up scene with her 2007 debut show fight or flight being nominated best newcomer at Edinburgh fringe, a second generation member of the diaspora with parents from Waterford and Warrington. She presented a two-part personal documentary passport Patty for radio four in 2018, and is now the subject of the longest intro I've ever written. So probably best to start the interview off with how you doing, Speaker 2 00:01:15 Um, doing to, to, to use an Irish expression. I'm doing grants. Thank you very much. Yeah. I love that. I love that term. How I am grand it's it's uh, it's nice. It's sort of incorporates everything. Doesn't it? It's lovely. Oh, where do we begin? Um, it's been it's yeah, it's been really tricky. It's been really, really tricky. It's been, um, uh, I think the weirdest thing for me was sort of back in March, literally losing everything within the course of a few days. Work-wise is, uh, I know a lot of people experienced that, but it's, it's totally brutal. Um, it was like the worst game of Domino's you've ever witnessed, you know, just one thing going after another, after another, after another. And I've been lucky enough to get stuff throughout the course of the year bits and pieces of come back in. But, um, comedians, we work, we work a lot, we work hard and move we're away a lot and we're, you know, we're constantly chasing the next thing. And for everything to stop suddenly is an absolute, uh, that bolt it's a, it's a, it's a real, uh, something to get your head around. Um, I'm sort of easing into it now a little bit more. I'm sort of very grateful for everything. Every bit of work that I do get and sort of being able to enjoy the forced pause Speaker 1 00:02:46 Is isn't it. And it's it. I mean, has it brought you to reconsider anything or is it just simply this, this feeling of, I can't wait for normal to Speaker 2 00:02:55 Uh, Oh no, I think I don't, cause I don't think normal will return as was I think it be slightly different shape. Um, I think if we, uh, the only this whole thing being a complete waste of time, if, if we don't as individuals come out of it a slightly different shape, um, I think you have to learn from these other of experiences and you have to take something away from it and you have to sort of approach things differently though, because I think a lot of us were sort of living in a sort of false reality fall sort of idea of the future and just sort of like on this enormous treadmill. Um, so yes, it's, it's forced us all to sort of stop reconsider and uh, and maybe moving forward, do things slightly. Speaker 3 00:03:35 You talk about the, uh, a standup's life being one of a huge amount of travel. And obviously it's, it's kind of anti-social hours given that most of the work that you do will be, it will be nighttime work. Uh, and so on. Is that something you enjoy Speaker 2 00:03:48 Late nights? The late night? So I don't miss the late nights. I really don't because over the years that it gets exhausting and I'm not in natural night out at all, if there's anything I've learned from this is that I have the internal mechanism. I sort of farmer and I like going to bed early and I like getting up early, which is not how a comedian works at all. Um, uh, bits I miss, I probably miss, uh, tell you what I do miss is the late night conversations with other comics. I miss that a lot, you know, in the green room and that sort of thing. That's, that's what I miss. Um, that comradery, uh, that's really hard cause we, we weren't solitary and we were solitary souls anyway, but we, when we come together at a gig and you know, prior to being on stage, it's a very, it's quite an exclusive little club of people that understand what it's like to work in that business. And, uh, so I, I miss, I miss those times and late night dirty snacks in motorway services. Yeah. Dirty, dirty, Ginsters, uh, guilty against us at 2:00 AM in the morning. And I'll let you know in a most way services. Yeah. Missed that. Speaker 3 00:05:04 If you're not unnatural NightOwl what was it that drew you towards doing up comedy in the first place? Speaker 2 00:05:10 Um, it I'm a show off and uh, I like, I like the let's call it power of being able to make people laugh. Um, that's, uh, that's something I've always enjoyed. Always, always enjoyed, you know, from the first moment you realized you can make somebody laugh. It's um, it's I, yeah, I revel in that. I enjoy it. It's, it's something I know I can do. And, um, uh, that's probably, you know, that that's the drive to do it. Um, the weird thing is during lockdown, you know, when there were a few gigs, you know, prior to the second lockdown, um, but they had to stop at 10 o'clock because of regulations. Oh, I was loving that. I was like, this is great. This is all he's knocking. She'd go beyond 10:00 PM. We don't need to go late in this. You know? So, uh, uh, I, I enjoyed that. I've done a few afternoon gigs as well during this period as well. I'm like, this is perfect. This suits me. Absolutely perfect. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:06:17 To stand up very from afternoon game to evening gig then, Speaker 2 00:06:21 I mean, it's different. I mean, I've done the weirdest of gigs in the last few months sort of online or live streamed in like sort of telly studios, just down the barrel of a camera with no wall, no physical audience, visible audience. Um, so it really varies and it varies, you know, lunchtime to re it is traditionally an evening. Things people have had a few drinks they're relaxed, they're out of work. Um, uh, so it is obviously different than the afternoon or, or just virtually, you know, zoom wise. It's um, it's bizarre. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:06:56 Going back then to, um, just saying that it's, you were always a show off and you enjoy the sense of being able to entertain people. When were you first aware of that? Speaker 2 00:07:06 Um, I mean, I guess early on as a kid, I guess probably actually about the age of about nine or 10 became more aware of it. I used to, um, uh, my mom used to drop this sounds so terrible, but my mom used to drop me off at school and I'd go and chat with the other moms, uh, at the gate where their kids and I knew I could and I, I used to entertain them. Um, and to make an adult laugh as a child is a that's. I was aware that I could do that. Um, tell stories, muck about, lock about, um, you know, uh, so yeah, I had my, my audience at the school, Speaker 3 00:07:48 Speaking of you as a child then, because this would this be after you'd come back from Ireland. Speaker 2 00:07:52 Yes. That was when we were living back in, um, Epsom and sorry. So we moved back when I was about nine, 10 years old. He moved back, uh, to, to Surrey. Speaker 3 00:08:03 Yeah. You spent the, a lot of the years before then in Waterford. Yes. Speaker 2 00:08:09 And Dunmore East. Um, initially when we moved around and moved back to Ireland, I w I was born in Wales and we moved when I was about six months old and we moved to <inaudible> in Waterford, my dad's from the city of Waterford. Um, so, uh, grew up there and then we moved from there to, um, clung melon, Tipperary. Um, so there were the two places that we lived while we were there for, for a time. We lived in a tiny little place called Bally Patrick, uh, outside Lamelle while I house with my dad's house was being built. And, um, I mean, I suppose you'd call it a Hamlet, uh, official pushing it. There was a post office that was about it. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:08:52 Well, and that keeps moving back just slightly. Um, uh, and so your, your, your dad initially came across from, from Waterford in the first place? Speaker 2 00:09:00 Yes. He moved over in the sixties. He had been in what 18, 19, uh, got on a boat, went to Liverpool. Um, and, uh, yeah. Got a job in England. Yeah. Yeah. So he would have hated it. It had nothing, it had come across and had, um, stayed in digs with landladies, you know, in the North of England and, uh, um, got work and then eventually went to university, went to Lafayette in the end to do, uh, chemical engineering. Speaker 3 00:09:30 Does he have a big family back in Ireland? Speaker 2 00:09:32 Not by Irish standards. It's not one of those, but there were 13 of us. Um, no, he has, well, there were five of them, so he's got two brothers and two sisters. He's the middle one. So five is, I think that's sort of a small, that's a small family in Ireland in the forties. Isn't that? Yeah. That's almost childless. Um, just the five or was he the only one who came across? Uh, no, my aunt Nancy, Mary came across. She worked as a, as a many of them did as, as a nurse in London. Um, and my uncle Brendan, I think, I think he joined the army. I think he joined the British army. Um, yeah. Um, and then Evan, uh, my other uncle moved to Canada, so they, you know, they did that classic thing of yeah. Departing Ireland. Speaker 3 00:10:28 Yes. Yeah. And I presume it's all for financial reasons. Speaker 2 00:10:31 Yeah. I guess. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. My auntie Claire didn't, she married a farmer and stayed in and so yes, he stayed there. Um, but yeah, most of them traveled. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:10:43 So your dad came across to the Northwest. Yes. And I'm presuming, this is the area that you met your mom in? Speaker 2 00:10:51 Uh, yes. Yes. My mom's from Lancashire. She grew up in Warrington. Um, and I think they met at a dance like people did in those days, you got to a dance, didn't you? African nemesis of rugby dance, something like that. Yeah. That had been rugby involved in some way, shape or form. My dad's obsessed with rugby union. Is that something you share? Uh, yes. I actually, I actually, when I was a kid, I was the first girl to play mini rugby for the London, Irish, uh, mini rugby team. Um, I say play rugby. They never threw the ball cause I was, but I do love her. I love the sport. Um, not as much of a father and then her father can, our conversations, these days are largely rugby related. Um, uh, and he's a big monster fan. Um, so I get a breakdown every time we're on the phone about how are they doing have that performing. Um, but, uh, no, I do love watching. I love watching the sport. I love watching it very much. Speaker 3 00:11:49 Was he involved in, uh, was it chemical engineering at the then, or Speaker 2 00:11:54 Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I can't remember who he was working with. W w w when he first moved, Oh, British oxygen. I think that he's always worked in, um, uh, chemical-y environments. Yes. And then later in life, we started working for, um, oil companies. And what did your mum do? Mom was, is, uh, was a, uh, well, mostly secretarial work, most of her life, um, in various different places. Um, but she didn't work when we lived in Ireland. She, uh, she was a full-time mother in, uh, in Dunmore East, where there was, I'm going to say subtle all to do. So it must have been quite a challenge for her. And, you know, my dad would go off to work in the morning to Watford or wherever he was working. And, uh, we, we lived at outside Don Maurice to so even less to do, and she didn't have a car or anything at that point. Speaker 2 00:12:54 So it must have been, I think about it now. And I think it must have been really tough. It must've been really dull. Um, yeah. Uh, I have lasting memories of wet, wet Sunday afternoons in Ireland and sitting in the back of my dad's old fear, wherever it was fear at Ross bucket. And just my mum going, I hate son face because all he did was go to mass. That was it. That was all that was available to do. We went to mass modern though. I went with dad, uh, sat in a culture church. That was, that was it. I always left now. And I've got, you know, friends talking about entertaining their children and taking them various places and Lego land and soft play and this and that and trampoline world. And I think good God growing up in Ireland in the seventies, there was absolutely literally nothing to nothing. Yeah, no, that was it. Speaker 0 00:14:02 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:14:02 Listening to the plastic podcasts, we all come from somewhere else. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, if you want to truly know a nation watches television. As my old grandma, Phyllis used to say, actually she said, no such thing. She actually told me to sow my wild oats until I was 40 and then joined the priesthood. But it is a handy link as Zoe lions looks back at the Gogglebox in Ireland, in the seventies, Speaker 2 00:14:27 The tele didn't even come on till four in the afternoon, half for three, four o'clock in the afternoon. There was nothing on before that. And then during that, I would remember those adverts. We were just sort of like cut, like sort of slides with a picture of a jam on it or something you, a Robinson it's the top GAM and the same voice would put the next third foot Phillips diesel put diesel in your tractor. And so it's just one slide after it. I mean, was God, it was, it was, um, yeah, the Angeles coming on at six o'clock. That was the highlight of the day. Oh God. Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Speaker 3 00:14:58 Mom was full-time mum. Was that just a year that you had brothers and sisters Speaker 2 00:15:01 Got a little brother Fintan um, he got the good Irish name. Um, so yeah, just me and him. And uh, so we lived, yeah, we lived outside Dunmore East, uh, in a, in a, in a bungalow that my parents built that overlook the sea. So it was quite beautiful. Um, and to complete the family, we also had a massive Irish wolfhound. I don't know why Paul's hands are massive anyway, but he was particularly huge. He was a massive dog. Um, my mom used to show him and I, I think at the time he was the second biggest dog in Ireland. That was our claim to fame. We're on the second biggest dog in Ireland. It was absolutely huge. I used to ride him like a pony and my mom would show him, we'd have to take the, we'd have to take the backseat out of the car so that you could get in. Speaker 2 00:15:51 And then we'd sit on top of him, like a sort of furry sofa. And my mum would take him to, to dog shows. How much did he eat yesterday? He's a huge, I mean, he must've got from Tums or Sodi. Must've done. It must the customer fortune. Um, yeah, not the sort of dog you want to walk around and baggage Pooh. Let's be honest. Cause it is it's you're gonna need a shovel. Yeah. Yeah. In fact, I have a, I have a lasting, I knew my father going around our garden just with a shovel, just flinging crap over there. It was the seventies, everything was covered in dog poo. Nobody picked it up in those days. Speaker 3 00:16:32 You say you had nothing to do with the Sunday. You talked about the, the, the Angeles being the highlight of the, um, of TV, but of course, um, having listened to your, um, radio four, um, program at school, the Angelus was, um, recited over the channel. It wasn't it, Speaker 2 00:16:48 I was taught by nuns and it was a 10 ice system that went through the school and they hadn't been used to do, uh, certainly the rosary from her classroom, from her office rather. And we'd all sit in our classrooms, reciting it, um, quite hard, quite hard when you think about it now. Um, and yeah, I went back to my dental school and the town, I just, I'm still there. It's still every, it does look like something from sort of fifties. It's really, it's got this lovely sort of, um, sort of wartime, bunker feel about it. Um, all the nuns have gone. Uh, but I remember them being quite nice. Actually, the majority of them were quite nice. Um, I just, I just have this image of the head sister coming down, the, the, uh, the hole and that, you know, the, the wind taking a habit and there is a look of, uh, you know, there is, at times they can look a bit like bats coming towards your giant bats. Speaker 2 00:17:44 So yes, as a child is a little bit of an intimidating look. Um, uh, but generally they were, they were quite pleasant to us. What were you like at school at that point? Really bland. Uh, I don't, I can't even remember any of my defining features at that point. Um, I've never been, I'm not, I wasn't the class clown. I've never been the class clown as such. Um, I'd been quite dull, I think quite well behaved. I wasn't naughty. I wasn't, I wasn't individual enough to be naughty anyway. Nobody was really naughty in those days because you, you got hit with a ruler if you were. So we weren't, well-disciplined, Speaker 3 00:18:24 It's all different. I mean, given that you, you, you shifted across from, at a very early age and so on. I mean, it was the fact that you, you had a, an English mother. Um, did that Mark you out at all? Was your, was your accent any different? Was it, was there anything like that there? Speaker 2 00:18:37 No. No. Cause I, I, I wasn't able to speak by the time we moved, I was only six months old. We moved across to my first accent was an Irish accent. So I didn't stand out in that way. I suppose my mother would have stood out in the village. She'd have been the English lady. Um, but then you stood out in the village if you had a hat at that point, you know, it was, um, uh, there wasn't a lot of, should we say diversity? Um, uh, so she would have been probably known as the Murdoch English lady with a massive dog. Um, but no, I didn't stick out at that point because I had cousins there and I had family there. Um, my auntie lived, my auntie and uncle had a farm behind us and I went to school with my cousins. And so I was, I was in, in, in engraved. Um, what's the word I'm looking for? I was, uh, ingrained the ones that, yeah, I was, um, Speaker 3 00:19:30 Or I prefer to in graves, to be honest, Speaker 2 00:19:32 I was engraved on it. No, I was meant to be there. And it was, you know, yeah. We, um, it was when we moved back to him that it was different. Speaker 3 00:19:41 I was going to move on to that because, I mean, you're, you're, you're mentioning that, um, you started to tell stories and tales to, to the, the, the, the mothers of the other children and so forth. And some of you seem to kind of come out of yourself having ha having come back. Speaker 2 00:19:56 Yes. Yeah. I think that's just being older and just, um, uh, you see, we've, we've moved around quite a lot. So we moved, we moved from Ireland to Epsom and then from Epsom to Glasgow. So wherever I've gone, my accent has been sort of, uh, lagging behind. So when, when we moved from Ireland, England, that's probably the first time that you have that feeling of being different or an outsider or somebody, you know, from, from another place. Um, uh, and yeah, my brother and I would have had really strong Irish accents, so it would have stuck out. Uh, and then, then we've got really strong, sorry, accents. And then I moved to Glasgow where we stuck out again, Speaker 3 00:20:37 When you moved across the sorry from Arlin and so on with the Irish accent, I was out at school. Speaker 2 00:20:42 Well, I guess my education had been a mixed, I've never been particularly academic. And, um, uh, certainly growing up when we, when we lived in Valley Patrick, I went to a school where there were just two classes in one room. And, um, nobody was that keen on reading. There was a lot just mucking about and playing with sticks. I think. So I think my reading probably suffered a bit and I've never been a brilliant reader. Um, so then obviously moving from a small school over to a bigger, uh, um, I suppose we call it a middle school in Epsom. It was a bit intimidating and, uh, yeah, the reading and writing probably suffered a bit. Yeah. I don't have play that in the Irish education. And that was probably me. Speaker 3 00:21:41 And then you moved across to, to, to, to Glasgow. Speaker 2 00:21:44 Yeah. Yeah. Uh, FA uh, uh, parental divorce and, uh, stepfather worked for bank of Scotland and, uh, got, uh, got transferred to Glasgow. So that's what I ended up friends up in Glasgow. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:22:02 And what age were you there till? Speaker 2 00:22:05 Uh, till I went to university. So 17, 18, Speaker 3 00:22:10 Right. Cause you went to York. Yeah. Yes, yes. And what did you study there? Speaker 2 00:22:16 I did psychology. I'm basically just mucked about for three years and managed to scraper to two, which I was quite pleased with because I was like, well, I wasn't expecting that because I really didn't put the work. And I am, I, I just spend most of my time mucking about doing plays, joining sports clubs, having a laugh really. That's really what I did. Um, every now and again, I'd turn up to a tutorial, but you know, I feel bad. I feel bad about it now. No, not really. Because, you know, we were very lucky. We got picked, we, we didn't have to pay our tuition fees. Um, yeah. Perhaps perhaps the use of today invest slightly more in their future now that they are financially burdened with it. Speaker 3 00:23:11 <inaudible> apartment. That goes, yeah, I get that. But there's another part of me that goes to light, then not encouraged to mess about like, he's Einstein, I'm picking up on the fact that you size or you, you, you did plays and things like that. And so the performing side of things. Speaker 2 00:23:23 Yeah, yeah. I get a lot of plays and I did a, and if I wasn't in a play, I was sort of doing the stage management for them or making props or all of those sorts of things. And, um, met lifelong friends doing that actually. And, um, I decided I wanted it when I finished university. I wanted to go to drama school. And that's where I discovered that while I was at university. Um, cause I didn't feel that way when I left school because I just hadn't a clue what I was going to do. I just hadn't a clue at all. But having left university and having spent time, you know, in the, the, the amateur dramatics society, I decided that's what I wanted to do. And that's, that's what I pursued. Yeah. I went to the poor school in London and Kings cross. It's no longer there, but it was it's, it was a school designed so that you could work during the day and still you studied at night and, and, and, um, at the weekends so that you could fund yourself to go through drama school. And that's what I did. Um, uh, uh, it was hard work cause I was working in the bars and restaurants during the days and then yeah, every night going to drama school and then every, and every weekend, I don't think I had a day off for about two years. Speaker 4 00:24:40 When you went on into the poor school, was it with a view to doing anything in particular or just send me to pursue a passion? Speaker 2 00:24:47 I mean, I wanted to become an actress. I wanted to be an actress, but then during the course of doing that, you know, you realize that actually acting is really hard Speaker 2 00:24:57 And you're pretty much, you know, dependent on somebody picking your face to go in a particular place at a particular time. And it's, um, again, when I dropped out of school, I usually ended up playing the, um, the comedic roles. So, and again, they kept saying to me, you should write some stuff. You should write some stuff, you know, that word. And, um, it was after I left drama school, I thought actually stand up might be an option because you can just create your own stuff and do it. And you're not dependent on anybody giving you work. You could actually just go out and perform in a pub late at night, you know, in a room pub, um, not for any Monday, but at least it was an outlet. Um, uh, and you are much more, uh, in control of your own destiny doing that. Speaker 2 00:25:49 You can create stuff and do it, um, as opposed to being offered a part in a play or a part of the TV series, you could, you could generate something and do it. And that's what I did. I just, you know, I decided that's what I was going to do. I went and saw loads and loads of open mic nights in pubs across London and, uh, saw some absolutely appalling stand up and thought I could be that bad. Um, they, they've clearly not. It's not the fact that their crap hasn't stopped them. Why should it stop me? So, uh, you know, I booked myself into do five minutes in a, in a pub in crouch end and that was it. And as soon as I got on the stage and I did it for the first time, I was like, that said, this is what I'm going to do. It was just, it was as quick as that was that first night I went, that's it, this is ongoing. And I carried on from there and I just gigs and gigs to gig Speaker 0 00:26:45 <inaudible>, Speaker 1 00:26:52 You're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora, if you're new to the plastic podcasts, or even if you're not, well, why not subscribe to us simply go to the [email protected], scroll your way to the bottom and insert your email address in the box, provided one confirmatory click later, and you'll be sent details of each and every new podcast as it happens. What more could you ask for, we'll be back with Zoe lions in a moment, but first it's time for the plastic pedestal, where I ask one of my interviewees to nominate a member of the diaspora of personal or cultural significance to them this week, Dame Elizabeth Antionne woo nominates an individual who whilst we've never met, can truly be said to be a friend of the plastic podcasts, Speaker 5 00:27:40 Conrad, Brian, I would put him on one big plastic pedestal he's as in accountancy. And, uh, but he was, um, one of the founder members of mixed race, Irish ssociation that is both, uh, UN based in Ireland. And based in, in, in England, I've obviously met him Fu um, the English, um, association. And, but he's also, he also writes he's written some very interesting articles for the Irish times and I've, I've, I've come across and he's a family man. And, uh, he, he has obviously very, he's got a lovely Irish accent. I'm sorry. I don't know what part of Ireland it's from, but it's, it's, it's a beautiful accent. And so for somebody like myself who, however many generations, I mean, it's my, what it does it with my great grandparents that were born in Ireland and my grandparents that were born anyway, we're going back a bit, um, for somebody like Conrad who was born in Ireland, grew up in Ireland and, uh, works in, in London. Speaker 5 00:28:56 It's, it's, it's actually very helpful for me, wonderful to, to know somebody like Conrad, uh, in terms of my own interest, obviously in the diaspora and Irish politics, he's much closer to that than I am. And so it's very refreshing and informative and pleasure to know somebody, uh, like Conrad. Um, he's I see him as a mentor. He'd be very, very embarrassed about that. He's a very humble individual, very, uh, erudite, so intelligent and, um, as mixed race Irish, he is proud of both aspects of his heritage. And that's what I always love to see. He's a very good friend. Uh, and I know Conrad is one of those individuals, if ever I needed somebody. You know, if I was in the depths of despair, for whatever reason, I know I could call on Conrad and he would listen and he would, he would help me. And it's beautiful to have that, but he's also introduced me. He was the one that introduced me to mixed race Irish. I mean, there was some other people as well, but Connor is a particularly important person for me in, in opening up this experience of mixed race Irish. Uh, it's, it's very, very important. And, um, yeah, Conrad is the person that I would choose Speaker 1 00:30:25 Damon Elizabeth and John were there. And if you want to hear more of what she has to say, or indeed any of our previous interviews, simply go to the [email protected] We can also be heard on Spotify, Apple podcasts, and Amazon having moved from Wales to Ireland, to England, to Scotland, and still touring. When COVID allows, Zoe has seen more of these islands than most. Here, we talk about her sense of Irishness and what that means to her. Speaker 2 00:30:53 I feel quite Irish. I've never felt very British. Um, I don't, it's a weird one, isn't it? I think because I've moved around quite a bit. Um, I find, I find patriotism. I just find it really hard. Um, and I'm genuinely, probably one of those people that wherever I lay my hat, that could be my home. Um, quote, an old Paul Young song. Speaker 1 00:31:18 You say you, you feel Irish. Speaker 2 00:31:22 Yes. Yeah. What does that mean then? Um, well having just started, I don't believe in sort of patriotism, et cetera, but I only have to hear that Ellen pipes, I burst into tears. I wish book some, it sets me off, it triggers me. And I think that must be something deeply innate within me. Um, yeah. Something about the misfit Hills and the music that absolutely is in your bones. Um, it's funny when I go back to Ireland now, I always find myself going, could I live here? Could I live here? Cause I live here. Um, uh, and I think I could, like I say, I've sort of used to moving around and, um, uh, it wouldn't take me long before I called somewhere else home. So that would be doable. Um, but yes, I feel authentically Irish. I mean, every time I speak to my father on the phone, he's got such an Irish accent, you know, it's, it's quite nice to sort of feel that connection. Speaker 1 00:32:35 Do you find yourself picking up the accent again when you're talking to him? Yeah, Speaker 2 00:32:38 Yeah. Yeah. There's definitely bits of it that definitely creep in. Yeah. Yeah. I probably, yeah, it wouldn't take me long. I don't think if I lived back there to sort of, to get a bit of a, a little, um, because it was my first accident as well. My dad's still got cassettes of me as a child and I've got such a strong Irish accent. It's hilarious. Um, so it's, it's in there somewhere and then in the LDNA, Speaker 3 00:33:07 And what's your brother's recollection on that? Or, I mean, have you ever talked to him about that? Speaker 2 00:33:13 Um, he probably, he was younger than me left, so, um, uh, it would be different for him I would imagine. Um, but it's interesting. My brother has always had an Irish passport. He's never had a British passport. Um, uh, and now he's got an American passport and an Irish passport, but no British passport. And, uh, that's, that's interesting when we talk about Brexit in our household, uh, my father now lives in France with my mom still, uh, she's in Hove, um, very much a Brexiteer and, uh, I'd like to drop the bombshell on her that her own son doesn't have a British passport. Therefore it might be difficult in the future for him. Of course it won't because of the agreement between Ireland and the UK. But I just like to bring it up over dinner just to upset her, the number of people that suddenly found a reconnection with their Irish roots after Brexit was alert readers. You know, everybody kind of dig into that. Like I'm sh I must have an Irish grandparents. I mean, who doesn't, it must be somewhere there has to be one somewhere. Um, yeah, I mean the, uh, the deep Irish patentable office went down, didn't it for about six months under the strain of, of Britain trying to get passports immediately after, after Brexit. Um, yeah. Speaker 3 00:34:41 And when you applied and I got your Irish passport, how did that feel? Because, I mean, I know how I felt when, when, when, when, when I got mine and it was one of those things where, um, I ha I now have two documents that are more or less identical to each other, you know, it's like, they're both burgundy colored documents as always with the same photo on the inside of me looking gormless and so on. But the nationality on both of those is different on the same person, but I've got a different nationality in one than I have from the other. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:35:11 Yeah. I quite like it. I only travel on my Irish one now. Um, uh, in fact, my British passport was just about to expire, so it'll be there already what I have and, but I'd love it because the, the Irish passport was quite pretty as well. The pages are quite pretty. They've got sort of folk Lorie type etchings on the pages, um, seascapes, that sort of thing. It's got that rugged romanticism to that. You're like, yeah, this is the highest, it's pretty also traveling. You know, my, my brother was working in the middle East for a while and we always used to say to him, don't travel on your American passport for God's sakes. Just take your Irish passport, because if anything happens to you or if, you know, if you've ever took, you know, he was working, uh, you know, man, close to the Yemeni border. So we were like, you know, if you're ever, if you're ever in a hostage situation, just flush the Irish passport because there'll be very few people globally that go, Oh yeah, we've got real beef with the Irish. Yeah. Let's take them the hostage. And it just has a sort of a sort of neutrality to it almost. Um, you know, so, yeah, so that's what I, I liked traveling on it. It does feel different. It does. Yeah. And I'm happy to have it and, uh, flush it about proudly. Speaker 3 00:36:22 And you did the, uh, the, the, the, the, the, the possible Patti program a few weeks ago, I'd been talking to a woman by the name of Neve, Leah, who is a, um, a third year PhD student over at new castle. And it was the first time that I'd come across the term passport Patty, rather than plastic patio or elastic Patty and her take on it was that there, there is a certain amount of, um, resentment of people who've psycho, who suddenly discovered, like you say, they're that they're that Irish granny, uh, and so forth would have never set foot in, in Ireland. And yet you're the program that you, that you hadn't saw, he was coming kind of telling you a very, very different tale. Every guest that you had was sort like, Oh, the more than area. Speaker 2 00:37:01 Well, very often they were very, um, very generous with their, uh, uh, citizenship. They were, they, I, I, I got the impression that, um, Ireland was very much enjoying having a day now post w watching the UK going through Brexit and, um, was reveling in its European newness. And it's forward thinking, and it's, it's such a young country as well. It's such a young young country. Um, and it is, it, it just seems, um, hopeful and optimistic. Um, I mean this year has obviously put the dampers on a things a bit, but, um, I got the feeling while I was at, it was a very hopeful, optimistic, forward thinking, um, welcoming, uh, European country and was proud of it standing in the world. And, uh, and if it wants, and if silence has traditionally sent people out all over the world, you know, since the potato famine on bridges and people have just left Ireland and gone to America and gone to Canada and gone all over the world, and, uh, now it's become a destination in its own, right. Speaker 2 00:38:15 And people are going there to have good lives and enjoy a good existence. We all know there's that strong sense of Irishness that goes everywhere, you know, it's, uh, it's um, that's why, wherever you go in the world, there's an Irish pub, uh, because it's because it's, there's, um, there's such a strong essence to it. Um, but they're now glad to be sharing it with the rest of the world to be welcoming people in, for a change, as opposed to sending something, their sons and daughters out it's. Yeah. I, I, I, I find, I like being there now. It does feel very, um, optimistic. It feels very optimistic. Um, and I know it's had its troubles and it's had its, you know, obviously huge economic, uh, problems, uh, you know, um, but even they seem to have got over that as well. You know, the Celtic tiger seems to sort of, uh, been domesticated in some ways they perform on their back, they're back on track to a certain degree. Speaker 2 00:39:29 Um, so yes, I enjoy their, um, their enthusiasm and their optimism and their welcoming at a time when it felt, when we recorded the show, you know, it was, post-Brexit just post-Brexit and it felt like, uh, the UK was, you know, um, uh, becoming a less welcoming place. Let's put it that way. And, um, and slightly embittered and a bit narky. That's how the UK felt, you know, depending on which way you'd voted, uh, just as sort of, um, an aggression, nobody was happy. Nobody's happy, nobody's happy, nobody's happy. You know, if you voted to leave, it wasn't happening quick enough. If you voted to stay, you weren't happy. So, um, it was, it was just, it was like a, sort of, it was like a perpetual family meal where somebody said something awful, but we have, we've only just got through the starter. We've got to sit here for hours looking at each other and hating each other. Speaker 2 00:40:36 We've got dessert to hit, you know, so that's how it felt. Whereas over there, it just felt like it was much more of a picnic scenario. Um, uh, yeah, nothing that's, I mean, I mean, it's, it can afford to be welcoming as well home, you know, he's got a right, he's got a small population. I know it's not a huge country, but it does have a smaller population. Let's be honest. The United Kingdom is pretty stuffed. Um, we asked, I mean, will I live in the Southeast? You know, we're staffed, there's a lot office and it's a lot more rolling Hills and a bit of free space in Ireland. Um, uh, so perhaps that has something to do with it. Um, yeah, yeah, no, it just, it just, I think because it does have such a youthful population as well. It just it's, um, it has an energy that I quite like. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:41:27 During the program, you did extracts from a, a standup show that you did over at the international bar, Dublin. Speaker 1 00:41:34 How did that go? I mean, you, you, you said it was a, a, an intimate occasion. Speaker 2 00:41:40 What am I more into gigs? Um, actually there were, again, there, there were people from all over the world there. So, um, uh, and a lot of young people would come over to Ireland to work in various industries and in Dublin. And, um, so it was lovely and it had it wasn't, it was really lovely. Yeah. And, and again, people were very, um, encouraging that to their, of Brits getting their Irish passport. So there wasn't that resentment. I never, I didn't come across any resentment to, to people, um, wanting to, well, I say reconnect with their Irish roots. What we've, what we really mean is go through an airport quicker for a lot of people. It was let's get to the airport cricket. I mean that at the moment, given the current situation, isn't an issue for anybody. So, uh, yeah, Speaker 1 00:42:40 You're listening to the plastic podcasts. We all come from somewhere else. It's not just a hashtag, it's a philosophy with her conversational style and emphasis on stories rather than punchlines. I suggest to Zoe that hers is a particularly Irish art. It's a thought that she treats with all the respect. It deserves. Speaker 2 00:42:59 Well, I'd love a good, very, yes, very nice. Do you consider this an Irish art? That's lovely. I always laugh when people use the word arts connects to what I do as well. The life art, um, uh, I like, I like language. I like, I like words. Um, and you know, that traditional Irish storytelling. Um, I like, I, like, I like finding out which words are funny. Um, cause you can sell it. You can tell a story, you know, 12 different ways, but the changing one word you'll make it instantly much more funny, you know, it's it's um, I find that really interesting that's yeah. I enjoy doing that cause I'll try stuff out on stage. If I go, it's not working, it's not working, it's not working. And I changed one word and you got that's it, it had to be aardvark. It had to be aardvark or whatever it is. And um, uh, yeah, there's a delight in that. Speaker 1 00:44:08 Do you spend much time working on the material as a written piece or is it just more something that comes up as you're, as you're performing? Speaker 2 00:44:16 It sort of happens in my head. Um, things will occur. Um, and, um, during, you know, pre pandemic days where I used to run a here in Brighton every month, because it was such a loyal audience that came every month. You know, there was a lot of regulars. I'd have to have new material every month and often I haven't written anything, but I do have a thought about stuff during the course of the weeks. And I just, I would just bash it out on the stage and see what, how it landed. And um, if it got a laugh, I sort of noted it down, but I didn't, I don't really write stuff out long form as such. Um, I work out on stage and then I work out the words and the re the, the rhythm and the shape of it by doing it. Yeah. A lot of people weren't that way. Very, not many people write long form. That's true. Actually I do. But yeah, people just have different approaches to doing it. Um, I know people who have never written down anything, um, have don't have any written material at all. It's all in their head. Um, that's terrifying. I forget what I've come into a room. You know, if you offer to wake up one day, it's gone, it's completely gone. Speaker 3 00:45:44 Yeah. It's conversational. But then of course I like, do you know that it's all you, so some things are going to hit some things are almost like your punchline or your one-line or where are you going to end up sometimes Speaker 2 00:45:52 A joke just lands in your head fully formed. And that's lovely. Sometimes you just go, duh, duh, duh. Oh, that that's it. Speaker 3 00:46:00 You got about the fly. Yeah. Um, but it also, it comes full circle and so forth. And when you, when you come up with something like that juror, Oh, that's good. I like it. Speaker 2 00:46:09 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. And when I, I love that routine because it's so silly and it came about me watching a fly in the window and you know, they get easily. Yeah. They might get in house such hard work. Um, and yes, so that started with the kernel of watching a fly on a window, making a balls up of trying to escape, to becoming a sort of metaphor for Brexit. And I was so pleased with myself. I came up with it and the first time I did it on stage, it got a round of applause and I'm like, that's, that's fully formed. That's that? Oh, it's lovely. When that happens, it very, very rarely happens. Um, but the, the joy in it is taking something as ridiculous as a fly. And it was a Glaswegian fly, uh, cause I tried different Xs, but the Glaswegian seem to work taking something as ridiculous as a fly, trapped behind a piece of glass and turning it into a way of talking about Brexit that didn't divide a room because there's an awful lot of lazy comedy as well. Speaker 2 00:47:24 I mean the majority of comedians are left leaning and anti the majority. So I saw a lot of lazy comedy about, you know, berating people that voted differently, all the stupidity of it all. And actually, you know, depending on where you're getting in the country, half the room would have voted to have left half the room. You'd just be, you'd be splitting the room and it's just boring to call people stupid because you disagree with their opinion. But if you can find a way of doing it that doesn't, um, doesn't antagonize either side, but highlights the perhaps folly of it or the weaknesses of it or the comedy of it. Then that's, that's, that's what I love most about what I do exposing something in a way that is nonaggressive and non, uh, accusatory, but both sides can understand it. Speaker 3 00:48:28 And when we talk about, um, the diaspora, um, we talk about things like turning points, you know, or I raised the question of turning points, but progress how, the way that the diaspora is like, um, being treated, say, for example, back in the fifties, no blacks, no dogs, no Irish and so forth to essentially being your last exit from Brexit. I wonder if the same, thing's kind of true of comedy here where an awful lot of the, the, the, the standup in particular, what we, what we would have termed alternative comedy back in the eighties and so forth, it was kind of confrontational. Speaker 2 00:48:56 Yeah. Punching, punching down. Speaker 3 00:48:59 Yeah. Or punching up or punching whichever way, but punching more, more, more, more, more, more to the point and so forth. And do, do you think that the, but then what you're talking about is it's, it's much more inclusive. We see how the nation takes bill Bailey to its heart and people like that. And you use this a lot. I go actually, is that, is there a kind of slide towards something that's a little less in your face? Speaker 2 00:49:19 Uh, yes. It certainly changed. Yes. I mean, you know, when you look back at what comedy was in the seventies, it was basically women and people of color that took the, there was a brunt of the joke, you know, it was, it that's what it was. Wasn't it, you took the piss out of your wife, your mother, your mother-in-law and people who weren't from around here, you know? Yeah. Um, so yes, it's, it's, it has blessedly changed because audiences have changed and people performing change. So it sort of reflects that, um, you see, your audiences have changed. Oh yes. I mean, audience has changed hugely from the reflect the people before me, you know, it w it will, if we're going back to the seventies, then it was, you know, it was husband and wife in a pint, in a fag watching somebody who looks just like them, uh, telling jokes that they could relate to. It was all, it wasn't very challenging. She would say, um, and now audiences have changed, you know, we, we, um, uh, w w w the performers are much more diverse and, and, and audiences are more diverse, so it's become broader and to become more interesting. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:50:42 What do you think came first? And then the kind of chicken and egg question, I suppose, but it's, it's, uh, you know, if audiences changed to reflect the, the, the comedians, the watching, and then comedians have changed also to reflect the audiences that are watching them? Speaker 2 00:50:55 Well, I, I go back to Joe brand. Did I go back to sort of watching her, um, she was absolutely punching through, you know, she, she, they would have been so few she'd have been the only woman on the bill ever, wherever she went. And, uh, uh, a lot of audience members would have got up and gone for a pee or a pint when she got, well, she called me Speaker 3 00:51:20 A huge amount of flack in the papers as well. I mean, not just when she started, but throughout pretty much all of the eighties and 1990s. Speaker 2 00:51:26 Yeah. Yeah. You know, but she paved the way for people like me. She absolutely did. You know, she just paved the way people like me made it much, much easier for people like me, so that when, you know, 10 years down the road, when a woman got on stage, they were like, Oh, I've seen this before. I think I know not to be frightened of it. Um, so yes, now we see a huge amount of diversity on stage to reflect our society. Speaker 3 00:51:57 When you started doing standup, did you feel like you were something of an outsider? Speaker 2 00:52:03 Yeah. Yes. Yes. But I mean, most comedians are like outsiders anyway, but then you felt, I felt like an outsider outsiders. Um, the outside of, yeah. Outside of the outside, um, most comedians are a bit, there's something that's not quite right with this, so we are already on the outside. Um, uh, but, um, definitely, like I say, I mean, it was still, I was predominantly, I was the only woman on the bill when I first started. Um, you know, I've done television shows where for years they'd only have one woman on the panel. Um, so you're immediately the outsider. You're constantly the outsider. You're the constantly, the person that the eye is drawn to because you go, Oh, that's different, you know? Um, that, that has changed. That has changed emotionally in the last 10 years or so. But, um, uh, yes, being an outsider is something that's just sort of been a constant Speaker 3 00:53:05 Can I say, because, you know, it's like, you come, you come, you come back across doing them with an Irish accent to the age of nine, and then which marks you out in Epsom. And then, so however you're mature, your accent has changed by the time you get up to Glasgow that marks you out even more. And then, and then there's, then there's your sexuality and so on. Which, which also takes you a little further outside the, the, the main, yeah. Um, and now he, I mean, yesterday, I heard you on just a minute. Speaker 2 00:53:33 Yes, yes. Uh, uh, I always have to pinch myself when I do that show because it was such a dream come true. And sometimes I sit there, I sat there on that show between Graham Norton and Julian Clary, and I've gone, God, give me some sort of massive clerical error here. How has this even happened? Um, I, I love it. I loved being part of that show and it's coming back. Um, cause I've got, you know, uh, Nicholas sadly, um, uh, passed away and he, he had held that he'd been in that chair for 50 plus years, so very difficult to replace him, but, um, but, uh, just to me, it is coming back and, uh, hope to be doing it again quite soon. Um, and I like, like I say, I have those moments where I absolutely pinched myself and I can't believe that I'm part of such an amazing, uh, institution. I love it. And I never take, never take it for granted. I'm always so grateful to be there. I'm always, so I am really grateful to be, Speaker 3 00:54:42 But yeah, I mean the, the, the introduction that I had I've met makes reference to radio four and this, the, the, the, the, the, the, the, the passport Patty and so forth. Is there a point where you saw, I go Speaker 2 00:54:52 I'm I know the establishment, I don't know. I know. And I don't feel that at all. It's so strange. I wish I still feel like I was sort of a newcomer in ways. I know it sounds really odd, but, um, um, maybe that sort of, um, imposter syndrome that comes in, or it, you know, um, most performance, I know, really doubt themselves. Um, the ones that don't generally assholes, uh, variable to be around. Um, but most performers really doubt themselves really when you're lucky enough to be given certain work, I do feel like I do. So now I have put the work in I've cried in a lot in Flybuys, late at night with my Ginsters I've I, you know, I've, I've gigged up and down the country. I've been booed off stage. I've cried off stage. I've stoned it onstage. I've done every, you know, every which way I've done a lot of work. Speaker 2 00:55:44 So I, I do feel now that I'm like, no, I do deserve this, but I am always very grateful, very grateful because the other thing is, you know, there's a lot of talented people out there and, um, you'll, uh, uh, instantly replaceable. So, um, I'm always, yeah, I almost take a note from my mum sort of thanks for having salvia Michelle. Um, because I, yeah, I'm aware that there's a lot of, a lot of people who would fill your shoes instantly. Um, I just got to, um, I, uh, I, I've got a telly show coming out in January on the BBC. I just filmed I'm in lockdown, which is an amazing, um, uh, quiz show for BBC two. And, uh, it's all done. It's all finished. It's all ready to go. It'll go out in January. And I can't quite believe I managed to do it quite believe it. So, you know, the next thing on the, you know, game show host, you're like, Oh, well, that's, that seems, that seems proper. Yeah. I'm always slightly startled. Um, uh, I'm slightly startled. I'm slightly startled though, given the work in the first place. Um, but, uh, I don't know if I'll ever feel sort of comfortable, comfortable if you know what I mean. Um, I don't think I'll ever stop feeling like an outsider. Speaker 3 00:57:15 I'm going to ask you one final question and you've kind of answered it in, in, in, in, in little bits and pieces. Uh, but it's, it's, um, the final question, which is what I ask all of the interviewees, which is what does being a member of the RFPs pro mean to you? Speaker 2 00:57:32 It's probably the first word that came into my head was family, uh, being part of a family, being part of a family that, um, uh, it doesn't matter where you are, how far away you go away. I think we'll always welcome you back in. Um, uh, so yeah, connection, human connection. Speaker 6 00:58:01 You've been listening to the plastic podcasts with me, Doug Devani and my guest. So we liked the plastic pedestal was provided by Dame at this birth honey on music by Jack DeBakey. Find [email protected] or [email protected] Alternatively follows Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. The plastic podcasts are supported, usually public funding by arts council, England.

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