Why it’s great being short
Times Plus Posted on Saturday, August 2nd, 2008
Stand-up comedian Lucy Porter on why being a shortie is something to smile about
Why it’s great being short
You’re doing two shows at the Edinburgh Festival. Ever get lonely up there on stage?
I’m doing my stand-up show with a Scottish comic called Des Clarke, which is nice because you’ve got someone else to share the burden with, and to blame, if things go wrong! Always an exemplary performance from me, of course.
Any pre-performance rituals?
These days I just have a glass of water and a banana, but I used to be terrible. I had to give money to someone on the way to a show, so I’d be desperately running around trying to find a poor person to foist money on to.
I did a show in Edinburgh a few years ago called Lady Luck, in which I set out to prove that there’s no such thing. Every night I’d smash a mirror on to the stage, open an umbrella indoors, spill salt without throwing it over my shoulder – all the things that usually terrify me. I just made myself do them.
A bit obsessive compulsive?
Yes, I had quite bad OCD when I was a teenager. It’s so nice to be released. I grew out of the worst excesses. It also really helps being a stand-up because you have to examine a subject from all angles and learn to think quite laterally. It’s the ultimate loss of control.
Your subject matter is dating, sex, real life. Ever influenced by a bit of Dutch courage?
I think I’m much funnier when I’m drunk. I once decided to down a pint of Guinness as my first gag. I thought I’d be really funny, being a bit drunk. Instead, I had to go behind the curtain and be sick.
Like the way you look?
Well, there’s that horrible thing where in your twenties you look really hot but you don’t feel it, then in your thirties you look back and wonder why you were wasting all your hotness. In your thirties, you’re just happy it’s all working.
Ever had any body issues?
I hate everything about the way I look, every day, but that’s just being human. I don’t bother with make-up or anything like that any more. Ha! My boyfriend’s looking at me and faking a Pinocchio nose. I wear make-up on stage, I suppose.
Into healthy food?
No, I eat terribly, really unhealthily. I’ve tried dieting and have gone a stone either way, but for the amount of effort, it’s really not worth it.
On the doughnut diet?
I eat a lot of biscuits. A lot. On the road, you always find yourself at a service station at three in the morning, eating pies and pasties and doughnuts.
What about smoking and drinking?
I do both, I’m afraid. I’m always trying to give up smoking, and trying not to drink too much, but it’s just one of the perils of the job.
Live it up after a gig?
After a show, it’s like having taken Ecstasy, then being forced to sit in a tiny metal box. There’s all this adrenalin pumping around and you have to drive home.
How do you keep in shape?
I go swimming almost every day. I love walking too. I don’t think it makes me lose weight, but it makes me feel much more toned and taut.
Would you ever go under the knife?
If I could get something interesting done, like getting an ear grafted on and grow it for someone else. But with plastic surgery, you’d just feel so embarrassed if you died on the operating table.
Green tea or GP?
I’ve had all sorts of alternative therapies to help me give up smoking – hypnotherapy, acupuncture, all that stuff. Hypnotherapy was great fun, but it just didn’t work.
Speak to God about it all?
No. I wish I was religious; people who are always seem happy. But it’s not for me.
Despair behind the comedy?
Oh, yeah. There’s obviously the deep human sadness that lives within us all, but I try to temper it with cheerfulness. Otherwise it would be a bit dismal if it was just me sitting there weeping on stage.
Tried to talk away the pain?
We had counselling once at university, when one of our friends died. We had to punch cushions. There’s so much to be sorted out – inadequacy, jealousy…
If you could change one thing, what would it be?
I’d like to be taller, so I could reach things. I’m only 5ft.
Believe in marriage?
I’m not really bothered. I think some people are desperate to get married because they want a big white wedding, whereas I get to be the centre of attention every day, so it’s not quite so pressing. It is useful having a boyfriend around to reach things, though. Shorties need that.
I wish I’d joined an indie band – and I want to go back to university and do a course in anthropological film-making. Everything to play for…
Lucy Porter is appearing at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in Lucy and Des Show Off and in Lucy Porter: The Bare Necessities until August 25; for details visit edcomfest.com – Harriet Addison