Comedian Zoe Lyons on cancel culture and the midlife crisis

Zoe Lyons. (Provided)

“I’ve always said that in the right hands and with the right intentions, you can make jokes about anything,” says comedian Zoe Lyons, as she prepares to return to stand-up.

As a gay woman who has been doing comedy for two decades, Zoe Lyons has gone through some huge changes.

“When I started out, just being a woman on stage was enough for some people. I often had audiences where guys crossed their arms, turned away, or walked out. It was a constant battle,” recounts- does she PinkNews

“People always assumed you were a gay woman anyway when you were a comedian and thought, ‘Well, she’s obviously gay and probably pretty angry’.”

“You would never have more than one woman on the poster, that was enough diversity. Now it’s so different and therefore the comedy is better. Now people can talk freely and openly about anything they want.

You could say that some actors – those who are cis, straight – have always been able to talk about anything they wanted on stage.

In recent times, many of these men have come under scrutiny for persecuting marginalized groups.

Zoe Lyons. (Provided)

Comedians such as Ricky Gervais and Dave Chappelle have faced backlash for anti-trans jokes for years. Over the summer, the talk was sparked at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival after controversial comedian Jerry Sadowitz had his show canceled for “racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny”.

“Jerry has been going there for years and years and years,” Lyons argues, “and he’s always had a particular style and suddenly being offended by what he’s doing is kind of weird. If you chose to go , you know what you’re getting into.

Ultimately, Lyon believe ‘nothing is on the table, as long as the intention is good’. Although she clarifies that “lazy knocking” is “bad taste” and “unfunny”, she sometimes thinks the audience is “deliberately offended”.

“I’ve seen viewers pick words out of routines or not listen to the whole thing and then get offended and it’s lazy of the audience,” she says.

However, she gets “equally angry at comedians who pick a subject they don’t have the skills to handle.”

“You can always sense an intention and that engages both parties’ responsibility,” she adds.

Lyon’s own material is much more self-deprecating, anyway. Huh new tour bald ambition is an honest look at a 50-year-old gay woman’s midlife crisis, which included buying not one, but two sports cars.

That’s until Lyons sees a middle-aged man with a combover driving the same brand in a parking lot and decides enough is enough.

Zoe Lyons.  (Zoé Lyons official website)
Zoe Lyons. (Zoé Lyons official website)

It was during this stressful time that Lyons alopecia, which causes hair loss, made a reappearance in her life. It was the insecurity around this condition that prompted the actress to wonder if she would ever return to the stage.

“There was a real feeling that I just didn’t want people to look at me. I didn’t want to be on stage and it took me a long time to overcome that feeling and use it as the biggest sell on my tour. “, she says.

In fact, Lyons acknowledges that people’s understanding of alopecia transformed after the infamous Will Smith-Chris Rock slap.

Smith slapped Rock at the Oscars after making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia.

“I watched this live and thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be helpful.’ I don’t have to explain to people on stage what alopecia is anymore because most people know what it is because of the news reports about it.

As households across the country locked down in 2020, Lyons also decided to move away from his partner of 23 years, Sindy.

“The pandemic offered this time to take a look back at our lives and I had a very classic midlife crisis,” Lyons admits, “hitting menopause, losing all your work in one day. It was a very stressful.

“We separated for a year and I hadn’t lived alone for years. It didn’t go well. Turns out I’m not good at living alone.

After some time apart, Lyons and his partner have reconciled and are “back together in a very different way.”

“We kind of feel like it’s our gap year now,” Lyons jokes, “we’re so grateful for the time apart and because we’ve been together a long time, making things happen has been invaluable.”

His tour covers the separation, and for Lyons, it fills a much-needed ga.

“I think because there’s so much more queer representation in the press and media, it tends to be biased towards young people and their self-confidence. [Older women] kind of being forgotten a bit. We slide to the other side.

“It’s common to hear about husbands leaving wives and vice versa, but this is less represented in the older queer community.”

Lyons hopes audiences realize that it’s okay to “laugh at even the darkest times in your life” believing there’s such “strength and vulnerability” in sharing life experiences on stage.

Zoe Lyons bald ambition The tour starts in February 2023.