On a grey, ominous Tuesday afternoon, I was looking forward to being uplifted by comedian, Lucy Porter’s chirpy attitude, to juxtapose the overcast skies across Brighton. A familiar face of all the great television panel shows, such as QI, Room 101, Have I Got News for You and Radio 4 shows Life – An Idiot’s Guide, Heresy and The Unbelievable Truth, Porter has become renowned for her chatty and witty puns. With her standup conversational show, Choose Your Battles, coming to the Brighton’s Komedia this Valentine’s day, it would have been a sad opportunity to miss if we didn’t manage to snap a few laughs in with her before she sets off touring the country.
Porter jump started the interview with a presence of nostalgia. Reflecting back on the wonder years of the 1990s living in Manchester, Porter says she decided to delve into the world of comedy whilst at university. She was amongst other exciting renowned comedians like Steve Coogan and Caroline Aherne, on the Manchester scene, so competition was fierce. It didn’t stop her from exploring the possibilities of humour.
Starting off in a small bar in Chester, hidden away from the city centre so nobody would recognise her, she performed her first routine. ‘Love at first gig’, and encouragement from fellow upcoming comedians at the time, from Johnny Vegas to Lee Mac to Chris Anderson – all part of a growing circuit – meant she never looked back.
From the rush of being up on stage to meeting audiences at the end of a night, she “fell madly in love with it all.” After her success at Edinburgh Festival, her infatuation with comedy flourished. After receiving great reviews from critics and overall having a fun, energetic time, her desire to do longer sets stemmed further.
This joy for live performances grows more every time, despite the rapid influence of the internet jarring down on the comedic industry. With a lot of comedians stemming from the world of YouTube, she’s often asked why she bothers with live performances and doesn’t settle for an audience behind a computer, television or phone screen. Her reply is always the same; “it allows people to come up to me after the show and say: ‘I really related to the part where…’” creating a sense of not feeling alone. The show is a reminder everyone has similar issues in relationships, good and bad, as well as the battles life chucks at us unexpectedly. Through adding humour, it becomes a lighthearted release from it all, even if just for the night. Porter exclaims, “it’s therapeutic and cathartic for both me and the audience. It just makes it a lot more special.”
From performing for so many years, her tactics for preparation are fairly simple. A ritual of eating a banana half an hour before the show to pump some energy into her blood sugar levels, and simply get up on stage to see what happens. Following a basic plan of the humour of she wants to include, she much prefers improvising the chat. “What’s the point in not changing it up a bit, it keeps me more interested and the audience feels it’s more authentic,” she asks.
Touring an eleventh stand-up show, Choose Your Battles has already prooved an Edinburgh Fringe hit. “It’s just me talking about my life. It’s what I love doing best.” After starting out as a single, self-employed, stand-up comedian, her life has changed significantly from the early days of the 90s. Now a wife and mother, it’s become a whole lot trickier choosing how she should battle through life, and knowing when to stand her ground. Conversational gags and slightly confessional jokes can all be expected along the way of her choosing what’s worthy to fight for.
For a feel-good hour about deciding and fighting for what is deemed most important to you, Lucy Porter’s Choose Your Battles comes to Brighton’s Komedia on Weds 14 Feb.