What is it like being a female stand up comedian and how do you survive the touring circuit?
From my teens I was obsessed with stand-up comedy, and from the moment I did my first gig I was hooked. There weren’t many women on the comedy circuit when I started out, I am so glad that seems to be changing gradually.
I love live performance and the unpredictability of a stand-up gig.
I hate being away from my children, but I am trying not to go away too much whilst they’re very young. Although to be honest having the odd night in a hotel on my own is quite refreshing.
What was your first ever job?
My dad was a pharmacist, and I used to help out in his shop from when I was tiny. In fact, I was so young it was probably illegal, although child labour laws were more relaxed back then. I’d imagine people must have been put off asking an child for pile cream or condoms. My first proper job was in a sugar packing factory – I had to test the sugar as it came in for purity. I have always had a sweet tooth, so I thought it would be my dream job, but it was very dull.
Has there been a particular person or an opportunity that you feel has made the most difference to your career?
Tommy Sheppard from The Stand Comedy Club has always been incredibly supportive. When I started doing comedy in Manchester in the 1990s it was hard to get paid work, but Tommy even paid for my petrol to come up to Edinburgh. He and his partner let me stay in their flat, and even though I often died on my arse, they believed in me and kept booking me. Tommy also took a chance last year on allowing us to stage The Fair Intellectual Club in his venue at the Assembly Rooms, and I am delighted that he did.
What made you want to write a play?
I was reading Robert Crawford’s book ‘On Glasgow and Edinburgh’, and in it I came across the story of a secret club for young women in 18th Century Edinburgh. I started to do some research into the story, and became intrigued. I had never considered writing a play before, but the confined, dimly-lit world that these girls inhabited seemed perfect for a theatre piece. I knew that I wanted to concentrate on three of the club members’ stories, and so the idea for the play took shape. I can honestly say that writing it was a pleasure, it was the easiest writing job I’ve ever had.
What do you like best about working within theatre/comedy?
I love the fact that I am always meeting new people. I get bored easily and so I enjoy hopping from place to place. I think most of us who work in comedy or theatre feel lucky that we get to express our creativity. Writing a play about women who weren’t allowed to do that has made me feel even luckier.
What advice would you give emerging female writers or comedians today?
I think any success I’ve had might be more due to luck than judgement, so I am wary of giving advice. I suppose learning not to give up or become disheartened in the face of rejection is particularly useful in showbusiness. If any aspiring writers or performers would like my advice they should feel free to email me through my website lucyporter.co.uk
Who would your Stellar Quine of the month be and why?
Would have picked Marilyn Imrie, but she’s already been a Quine of the Month. So I would say Susan Morrison, she’s a brilliant comedian and fascinating history buff who has been an inspiration to me. I named a character in the play after her as a small tribute.