Lucy Porter had to do a quick rewrite before taking her latest comedy show out on tour. Fools Gold premiered at last year’s Edinburgh Festival and, as well as taking in the entire history of the precious metal, she also declared it was the reason she would never get married. Porter is allergic to gold and came out in a rash at the thought of slipping on a metal band.
But then things changed. By the end of last year, the 37-year-old stand-up had wed her partner and fellow comedian, Justin Edwards, and the material needed a little tweaking. “It was a very inconvenient time for him to propose,” laughs Porter. “But I couldn’t say no just to save me rewriting a few jokes.”
Her marital status isn’t the only thing that has changed since the stand-up sat down to write Fools Gold. Inspired originally by the cash-for-gold adverts which sprang up seemingly from nowhere, by the time she took it to Edinburgh, it seemed every other comedian was doing a variation on the same joke.
“You couldn’t move for gags about cash for gold, and saying you were there first doesn’t make it any funnier,” she says. “But the idea of the show was to look at why people have always been obsessed by gold, so I didn’t have to panic too much. Basically, it’s a whistlestop tour through the Aztecs, the alchemists, the gold rushes right up to present day.”
Porter began her stand-up career after graduating from Manchester University with a degree in English Literature. While working for Granada TV, she got a slot at a club in Chester, which she reckoned was just far enough away from her home that, should she flop, no-one would recognise her. “I hated public speaking, and the idea of being up on stage with a room full of people saying, ‘go on make me laugh’, terrified me. Looking back, stand-up comedy was a terrible career choice, but I drank a lot of alcohol and that seemed to numb the nerves.”
From dingy comedy clubs, Porter has become one of the few female comedians who can claim to be a household name. As well as being a permanent fixture on the touring circuit, she’s also a regular on Mock the Week, team captain on the radio show, Act Your Age, and was one of the lead writers on ITV1’s satirical animation series, Headcases.
Add the various TV pilots on which she’s working, and her victorious appearance on Celebrity Mastermind with specialist subject Steve Martin, and it’s clear that, aside from natural talent, it’s hard work which has got Porter where she is.
“I do spent a lot of time checking in and out of hotel rooms and I’ve probably seen the inside of most branches of Debenhams. But I still love touring, you have to, but in between I do try to do as many different things as possible. If you do anything too long, there’s a danger of becoming complacent, so the acting, the comedy writing and the panel shows keep things fresh. I like to think of myself as the Madonna of comedy, although I’m not sure anyone else agrees.”