Interview with Elf Lyons

Elf Lyons takes some time to talk to Voice about the show, inspirations, and to give advice to young people.

Interview with Elf Lyons

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Helllooo there. My name is Elf, or Elfy amongst friends. I am 6ft tall. I'm a comedian. I'm queer. I do drag, run an LGBT comedy night and make clown theatre with my theatre group RaRaRa. I hate soup. I just finished training at L'ecole Gaulier in France and I live in Brixton. My favourite things in the world are books, baguettes, playing basketball, trying to Vogue and pretending to be a horse.

How would you describe your show?

When Mary Poppins jumps through the painting and lands in the world with all the dancing penguins. Exactly like that.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

It's comedy mecca. I'm addicted, the idea of spending my August anywhere else other than Scotland feels completely perverse now. I get to spend a month completely nocturnal, amongst all my friends, seeing as much theatre and comedy as I can.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

It's the biggest, busiest, boisterous and buxom of all festivals. There is something for everyone and it feels unending. It's the Infinite Jest of festivals.

Do you think the Fringe has changed over the years? If so, how? Are these changes positive or negative?

Every year it evolves - obviously technology has changed how the festival operates and how audiences discover shows and how performers reach out to potential audiences, so that is great and has benefited so many people. Every year it becomes more global, with new styles of performance constantly appearing and more opportunities for performers to come to the festival - in the forms of new funding initiatives, new venues and new festival models such as the Free Fringe, the PWYW model and paid fringe to choose from.

At the same time, the numbers of performers do feel to trump the number of audience members, and that can be nightmarish. And Edinburgh festival accommodation costs are horrifically expensive.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

I couldn't imagine anything else. All I wanted to do was make people laugh and when I manage to do it I feel so happy. I was lucky to discover the career that made me happy. When I was 15 I was inspired by comic performers like Tamsin Greig, Olivia Colman, Michelle Gomez, French & Saunders, Patricia Rutledge and Smack the Pony to give it a go.

If you didn't have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

I can't imagine not doing what I am doing. But if i was unable to perform on stage I would be a writer, and maybe do a PHD. That would be awesome.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

This one.

Or maybe working with Elephants.

Or swimming with Sharks. But I don't know what type of job would involve that predominantly.

I wouldn't mind living on a submarine.

With a library.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

My grandmother re-enacting Yoko Ono's Cut Piece when I was 7 for a lady from the WI's funeral.

Do you ever feel any pressure to be a social commentator, or constantly update material to respond to events?


Equally, do you think there has been a shift in public sentiment that has affected your work?

There possibly has been, but when I am on stage all I focus on is creating laughter, so that is the only thing I pay attention to, and work out how to elicit it from the audience.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

Coffee. Wine. Baguettes. France. Mime.

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

Marcel Marceau. I would love to learn all his tricks and have his grace and ability in his body.

Why would a performer opt to do either a ticketed event or participate in the free fringe? What are the benefits and limitations of both?

This is my first year at the paid fringe with my solo show, Swan, which I am incredibly excited about. I can't wait to get to know the team at the Underbelly.

This is also my 4th year on the free fringe with my sketch show 'Hilda & The Spectrum' with my comedy partner Ryan Lane. I'll have to get back to you after August with my comparisons between the paid and the free.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

Do your research, go to the festival first or talk to someone who has been there if you can't. Work out what you want to get out of it: develop your material? Hone your craft? Further your career? Develop a fan base? Experiment? Working out your objectives will help work out whether paid or free, full run or a shorter run is best for you.

When and where can people see your show?

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

Swan is performing at The Underbelly Med Quad at 21:30 on 2nd – 28th August.

Hilda & The Spectrum is performing at The Voodoo Rooms at 19:50 on 5th – 28th August (not 8th or 22nd).

For tickets and more information visit the Ed Fringe website.


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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