Elf Lyons is the most wonderful stand-up comedian I have seen this year. She’s relatable, absurdly funny and fantastically friendly. No excess swearing, no mean jokes, plenty of nonsense.
The stage was a narrow strip set into the cosy upstairs room of the Voodoo Rooms pub off the back of Princes Street, and she trotted onstage in what she pretended was a dressage horse costume; a black playsuit and fancy mask. Instant confidence and laughter from the outset – the kind of show which is immediately obvious that it is going to be good.
It was like having a catch-up with a slightly crazy cousin. Lyons doesn’t over-exaggerate her stories as some comedians do, and this has the effect of grounding her in reality and thus causing her anecdotes to be even more hilarious. She placed my hand on top of her head so that I could feel a large bump on her skull. This had resulted from hitting herself too hard over the head with a tambourine and knocking herself out during a stage production. The evening was structured with little fun and ridiculous tales such as this, and the audience’s constant laughter lent the room an encouraging background noise.
Her relationship with her mother headlines the show, but she manages not to make it into a rant by interspersing the theme with lots of other material inspired by events in her life. She also breached the subject of suicide, and of miscarriage, though not to laugh at, earning bonus points for taboo topics. The title of the piece, Pelican, is a reference to a story her mother told her, about a species which apparently dies for its young. There are both heart-warming and humorous aspects to her show, and despite the show running overtime everyone in the audience was keen to stay on right to the very end of her show.
What really singles out a comedian is the wittiness of their non-scripted asides to the audience, caused by either a mishap or an unusual audience reaction, and Lyons fully exploited these instances for a comic reaction. She looked right at home on the stage, taking off her heels to walk around barefoot as if in her sitting room, chatting away as one would when entertaining party guests.
Lyons’ feel-good persona and laughter is infectious. She is the kind of person you want to be friends with, and the perfect remedy for a long, tiring day.
Elf Lyons: Pelican is on daily until August 28th (except 23rd), Voodoo Rooms (Venue 68), Edinburgh, 7.50pm
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