Zoe Lyons is a ‘take no prisoners’ breed of stand-up comedian. The openly gay comic has a degree in psychology and even endured being a contestant in series one of the UK version of Survivor.

Add to this her status as one of UK newspaper The Independent’s Pink List of influential gay and lesbian identities in 2009, and you have quite a formidable voice on stage at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

“I have never considered myself to be of any influence at all,” Lyons said.

“I would have been less surprised to see myself on a list of people who are usually found under the influence.”

A fan of North American comics such as Wanda Sykes, Louis CK, Doug Stanhope and Tom Stade, Lyons said newcomers to her brand of stand-up can expect an animated and physical performance.

The name of her new show, Clownbusting, sprang from a rather peculiar incident.

“It is kind of based on a story I tell about trying to impress a group of people with my knowledge of Kate Bush songs and getting it wrong. I spent a night with members of her fan club up a hill one night, eating magic fudge,” she said.

Lyons got her start in comedy after booking herself in for a five-minute open spot in a club in London nearly eight years ago. Despite saying she thought she was terrible, she booked herself into another gig the next day and continued to work on her skills.

She won the Nivea Funny Women Award in 2004, reached the finals of the So You Think You’re Funny Award in the same year — which had previously been won by the likes of Dylan Moran — and was nominated for the if.comedy award for Best Newcomer at the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Last year, Lyons took part in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow.

“I enjoyed it so much. I did the part of the tour that takes in most of Western Australia, so it was gigs mostly in mining towns,” she said.

“People in London get so complacent because they have everything all the time right there on their doorsteps, so it was a pleasure to play to crowds who were really pleased to be getting some entertainment.”

info: Zoe Lyons’ Clownbusting is at the Melbourne Town Hall Powder Room, March 31 – April 24. Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au or at the door.

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