Edinburgh Fringe Interview: Lizzy Mace

Who the hell are you and what business do you have in Edinburgh?

I’m Lizzy Mace, actoress, writeress and comedianne, and I’m performing two shows in Edinburgh this year: Overlooked – a solo character-based sketch comedy show, and The Cleek – a part-sketch, part-improv show where the audience decides what order everything happens in so it’s different every day.

What is it about the Fringe that makes you want to perform here and how long have you been doing comedy at the Fringe?

The chance to perform every day for a month, mix with like-minded people and see exciting new work. It’s such a buzz. I’m probably kind of addicted. This is my fourth year at the Fringe in total, with a break last summer when I went to Chicago’s Second City Training Center to do their intensive summer courses in improv and sketch-comedy writing. I couldn’t stay away completely though – I arrived back in the UK on a Wednesday and by the Friday lunchtime I was in Edinburgh for the final weekend of shows and socialising.


How do you convince people on the streets and into your dark lair?

I hate to blow my own trumpet, so I didn’t bring one this year. Instead I tell people what others have said – I won an award for Rom Com Con, written and performed with Juliette Burton, in 2012, and this year’s show Overlooked has already had great reviews at Adelaide Fringe and Brighton Fringe, so I point those out on the flyer. And if they are not convinced by the fact that the show is free and there is a bar in the venue, then they are beyond my help.


Describe your perfect audience member?

When I’m performing a show, my perfect audience member would be someone who sits at the front without needing to be corralled and who laughs very very loudly. At everything. When I’m watching a show, my perfect audience member is almost the exact opposite of that. I’m not very tall, so that front seat is mine.


What’s the best/weirdest thing you’ve ever seen at the festival?

The weirdest thing was definitely Mr Methane, at the Malcolm Hardee Awards. If you don’t know what his act is, I suggest Googling it. The best thing… SO MANY! The show that sticks in my mind is the first time I saw Sam Simmons’ show three years ago. It was so funny, I actually couldn’t control myself.


You’re show is at a venue under a new fringe promoter, Freestival, what was it about them that convinced you to go with them rather than the other two who have built up a bit of a reputation? 

I know most of the Freestival team personally from doing the Free Fringe together in previous years and I felt I could work well with them. They’re all really passionate about the free movement, and combine that with some practical new ideas on how to run free venues, flexibility, open-mindedness, and a great deal of professional experience running comedy nights in London. It’s exciting to be part of an ambitious new venture and I think what they’ve achieved in just 8/9 months is incredible. Viva La Freevolution!


Do you have any rituals you do when you come up to Edinburgh?

I always try to get up to Arthur’s Seat once during the month. Apart from that, there’s no real routine other than taking each day as it comes. I drink too much and don’t get enough sleep, but those are habits rather than rituals. And no different from my life outside of Edinburgh…


What’s the best/worst heckle a Fringe audience has thrown at you?

I’ve not been heckled too much – my shows have always been either comedy story-telling or character sketch which don’t tend to attract as much heckling as stand-up. In 2011, there was one performance of Rom Com Con where a guy in the front row kept saying very loudly to his mate how brilliant we were and how great the show was. It wasn’t really a heckle, more of a loud compliment. I was once heckled by my mum, but again that was less of a heckle and more of a comment on my upbringing.


You’ve just been trapped in an elevator with a ‘critic’ who didn’t appear to be much of a fan and was a bit unfair. How would the next hour pan out? As your name is Mace, you might as well happen to have a mace in your bag.

I chronically avoid confrontation so I would talk about everything else except the review for the entire hour, then once the doors were open I’d mutter something about it then run out before we could properly air our differences. I’d even avoid the fact I had a mace in my bag – probably make some joke about being “pleased to see them”. Basically, there’d be an elephant in the room the whole time. Which in a lift would be super-uncomfortable.


With exception to your own show, who do you recommend people go see?

For sketch, I love The Beta Males, WitTank and Casual Violence. For stand-up, Paco Erhard and Felicity Ward. For improv, Baby Wants Candy and Austentatious. For something different, Juliette Burton’s docu-comedies are awesome, and the Neo-Futurists are here this year with their iconic show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. And I always always recommend people to take a chance on something they’ve never heard of, by accepting and actually reading a flyer, chatting to people in queues, or just turning up at a venue and seeing what’s on next. That’s what the Fringe is all about.


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