Roxy Bourdillon meets comedian and “little misfit” Zoe Lyons.
Zoe met her wife Sindy 19 years ago on the Isle of Lesvos. That’s not a joke, that’s her actual life. “Whenever people ask, we go, ‘...Greece’. They go, ‘Where in Greece?’ We go, ‘In... in Le... in Lesvos, it was Lesvos.’” I laugh so hard I nearly spit out my frothy coffee. Zoe has funny bones, which come in handy when you’re a professional comedian. When we meet in Soho I quickly discover her delightful ability to find the funny in every little thing, slipping into silly voices and pulling animated faces to punctuate her anecdotes. She’s generous with her own laugh too, as she chuckles at the absurdity of meeting her wife on Sappho’s island and the extraordinary volume of the bloke at the next table’s sneeze – “Bless you,” she mutters. “That was quite the ear-splitter.” But let’s get back to her Lesvos love story...
“I had lost a tequila challenge. My friends tried to get me into a van and I slid straight across the seat and fell out the other side. Sindy picked me off a carpark floor and threw me back in the van. It was love at first sight. That’s it! That tequila sodden mess with no prospects. Let’s go for that.”
At the time, Dutch Sindy was living in Holland and Zoe had a room in London, having just left drama school where she played a plethora of “club-footed maids”. After 18 months, Sindy sold up and moved into Zoe’s room. “She must have been really desperate.”
So the lesbians locked eyes in Lesvos, did long-distance, then lodged in London, all loved-up. What a tongue twister. I challenge you to say that at speed! They’ve now made a home in gay mecca, Brighton and have been married for 10 years. “Neither of us are particularly romantic. Even when we got wed, it was like ‘Shall we?’ ‘Well, it’d be rude not to. They’ve changed the law for us.’ ‘Yeah, ‘cos if I die, the mortgage will be taken care of.’ Of course it was a loving thing, but also... admin.”
Sindy was watching from the audience when Zoe did her very first stand-up gig at The King’s Head in Crouch End, London. “I had five minutes of really bad material, but I delivered it with chutzpah. We were both quite excited; ‘Woo-hoo! I’m gonna be a stand-up!’ I mean that’s so naïve, but we didn’t question things too deeply. She thinks with her heart. I followed a dream. And it’s worked out alright. It could have gone completely tits up.”
Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Zoe in the August issue of DIVA, available now at divadigital.co.uk.
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