Elf Lyons is a comedian whose stand up is potentially as much of a performance as comedy can get. She is vibrant, loud and unafraid of exploring territory unknown to herself and her audiences, making for exciting and unique experiences for performer and viewers alike. Her latest solo show Pelican, a show exploring the comic’s relationship with her mother, received great critical acclaim and it seems as though this newest show might just follow suit.
Lyons has also teamed up with comic Ryan Lane to produce a surreal two-man show called Hilda & The Spectrum. Elf is currently performing Work In Progress shows at various venues across the country, so be sure to catch her if you are looking for something a bit different.
MoodyComedy caught up with her to hear more about the new shows…
1) What’s changed in the life of Elf since we last spoke in 2015?
Well, most importantly – I’m still ginger – and I still love sharks- but other than that, everything has changed in some way. I can run 5k in 27 minutes (my best time), I’ve been to L’Ecole Philippe Gaulier for a year and lived in Paris studying acting, clown and bouffon. I had a whirlwind relationship with a French man who looked like a blond Serge Gainsbourg. Met my comedy soul mate Ryan Lane when we moved into the same house in France – like a more neurotic clown version of Will & Grace. Learned to box, started ballet, gigged in lots of very cool places, I do lots of weird stuff with the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society. Was a part of the Duckie Homosexualist Summer School at the RVT, created my own monthly LGBTQ comedy night at Her Upstairs. And now I have just finished touring my previous solo show Pelican – and now I am starting to showcase and preview my brand new shows.
2) What is your latest show about?
It’s my attempt to do a one woman production of Swan Lake, the ballet, in under an hour, in French. Using two fire extinguishers to replace the swans. Title to be decided.
I am also doing a crazy Mighty Boosh-y weird character show with Ryan Lane called Hilda & The Spectrum – based on two drag characters we created at Gaulier together.
3) What influenced your creativity while writing this new show?
After Edinburgh I had a huge bout of writers block – which comes to us all at some point – so to get myself out of the zone I did a workshop with Lucy McCormick which heavily inspired me and gave me the jiggle I needed to experiment. She likes the idea of playing with failure on stage – which led me to take the initiative to start playing with my fantasy to do the impossible and do a full scale production of Swan Lake on my own.
There is a lot of clown in the show – lots of improvisation. I’m really inspired by Spy Monkey too and I am currently doing a workshop with them which is pushing my clowning skills.
I love completing ‘challenges’ on stage – hence the desire to see if I can communicate the whole thing in a language that isn’t my first (French) and which is a language that I also can’t actually speak fluently at all.
Re Hilda & The Spectrum – it is every niche 90’s pop culture reference you can imagine in 45 minutes – all set in the world of the East Berlin sporting community. With Ryan our work is based on playing games with each other – and through playing games in our characters we create the scenes. In some ways the narrative doesn’t matter – it is our silliness and relationship that does. And it is SO SO CAMP.
4) What do you want audiences to take from it?
I want them to feel like Agnes in Despicable Me whenever she sees a Unicorn.
5) Is writing or performing more cathartic for you?
Performing. Always. Because I am with people. I write all the time but predominantly on my own, and after a while that is no good for the soul. I am very self aware when I write too, because I am analysing the writing, language/structure for the joke etc, and I can end up getting stuck in my own head. On stage, you’ve taken the plug out, all you think about are the people in front of you – and it is such an orgasmic release. All my neuroses disappear on stage.
6) What, if anything do you think your comedy is missing?
And a live band.
7) How do you define yourself as a comic?
A long one.
I think my comedy comes from the bits that I don’t write on my own and instead the interactions and odd-spur-of-the-moment realisations that come out on stage in the heat of the moment. (I don’t know. It’s hard to analyse without sounding like a pretentious turd.) I feel so comfortable with my wobbly long gangly body when I am on stage – I forget about the bits that make me insecure when I am off stage – so when I am on stage I become free to use it and play with it to create comedy in all forms. Basically, physical and weird. That’s my comedy. And sexy. Let’s throw that word in there too.