Laura Lexx wasn’t at Edinburgh Fringe last year, instead, having spent most of 2017 trying for a baby and then trying to get through therapy, Laura was in a tent in France with two small children and her mother looking for answers… she didn’t come up with many but lucky for us she came up with some jokes and is making a welcome return to the Edinburgh Fringe with her new show Trying, Funny Women editor Kate Stone talked to Laura about mental health, going viral and how Live at the Apollo solved sexism in comedy… (thanks Live at the Apollo)
Kate Stone: Tell us about your show Trying
Laura Lexx: It’s about laughing at serious stuff… over the last couple of years I’ve had some pretty serious bumps with depression and something called Generalised Anxiety Disorder (an inability to control my anxious thoughts) and so I’ve made this show that is totally honest about why, and how, all of that worked at the same time as me having a really good time laughing and joking and poking fun at it.
My aim with Trying was to be standing in front of people, making them laugh and giving them some solid entertainment while I had my hand up saying “I’m one of these people/statistics who live with mental health problems.” We’re all over the place and we’re not necessarily the people you would think we are.
KS: You’re addressing some topics a lot of people feel awkward discussing, what’s given you the confidence to write a show about them?
LL: I really believe in myself as a comedian and as a storyteller. I also knew that because this means so much to me I would work so hard on it so that my work couldn’t give people a reason to claim we “shouldn’t joke about these things”. I decided to be really honest about the help I’d got when I met someone who described the trouble they were having and it sounded like everything I was going through, then they said they’d been prescribed medication but were too worried to take it in case it had side effects. I was sat opposite this person, on the medication they were worried about, and thinking “if people like me don’t open up and say the help is good people will always be scared to take it”. So, since then I’ve tried not to be scared of the consequences and to try and show people that just because I have these issues, it isn’t everything I am.
KS: What was it like working with comedian Jess Fostekew, who is directing your show?
LL: It’s been great so far… it’s so nice to have an outside eye on the structure and the content. It’s lovely working with someone you admire professionally but can also have a very easy going personal relationship with.
KS: A clip if you dealing with a sexist heckler went viral in 2016, do you still have to deal with sexism in comedy?
LL: Nah, it’s finished now. They did an all women Live at the Apollo and it fixed it.
KS: You’re an award-winning MC, any tips for fledgeling MCs on the circuit?
LL: Ooh, I don’t know… I suppose my main tip would be, treat yourself as part of the night. There’s a funny idea that the MC is there to make the night good for the comics; nope. The MC is there to make the night good for the audience, same as everyone else.So, by that what I mean is, sure, as a compere you try to make sure the audience know not to talk while the acts are on etc. but that’s about making the room great, not paving an easy path for the acts. I know this sounds barely any different, but I think it’s an important part of the psyche of feeling confident as an MC, I need to feel like I’m part of the fun, not the admin lady. It helps you play around with the crowd, fit your jokes in and mess with the rules.
KS: And finally, who are your favourite funny women?
LL: Felicity Ward, Sarah Bennetto, Zoe Lyons, Grainne Maguire, Harriet Dyer, Jo Caulfield, Abigoliah Schamaun, Katherine Ryan, Sara Pascoe, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Suzi Ruffell, Desiree Burch, Ellie Taylor… I mean, I could go on for HOURS here!