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The Comedy of Errors

Comedy Interview: Eleanor Conway

23 October 17 words: Hazel Ward

She's clean and sober and nothing scares her any more - now raucous comedian Eleanor Conway is ready to walk the walk and talk the talk.

You’ve had a few different careers…how did you get started in music journalism, first of all?

Music journalism was the first part of my career and it was so much fun I ended up moving to Asia with a boyfriend at the time and we stumbled into the music industry out there. They've got a pretty vibrant club culture out there and we touched the beginning of that. Before I knew it, I was presenting music telly out there. It was amazing - I got to meet loads of people like 50 Cents, Public Enemy, DJs and hip-hop artists that were around at that time. It was bloody amazing. Then I got back to the UK and I won a competition with Virgin to go around the world for them. It was literally not long after I got back to the UK and I was like, "Yes please!" I spent a year going around all the festivals in America and Canada and Asia, interviewing bands backstage. Then I ended up being their music bitch, basically! I met loads of amazing people: Calvin Harris, Justin Bieber Ke$ha. It was amazing. Everything that you want it to be and more.

 

 What were the best and worst parts of those experiences?

Worst… this is when I was a bit of a drinker. I interviewed Elbow when they did a sell-out performance and Wembley arena and I was a bit cheeky with them - I didn't realise how big they were until I was watching them in a sell-out concert at Wembley arena! I went to the after-party afterwards and proceeded to get so drunk and hit on every member of the band, even with their partners there, and get taken home in a police car.

The best one - all of them. Just being able to go and interview and chat to people that I really respect in the music industry. All the adventures, and the travelling that I've done. Meeting Justin Bieber, that was quite cool, although he was much younger at the time, but it was cool. He's such a big star now and I'm like, "Yeah, I knew him first!" Well, interviewed him first. We didn't exchange numbers, that would have been weird, he was fifteen at the time

 

And you also worked in the hardcore porn industry…

I was an editor, so tell readers not to start Googling me, trying to watch some porn - they'll be severely disappointed! I was freelancing as a video editor for a bit and I got a call from a recruiter, a normal recruiter, and he asked, are you looking for work? There's a video with a three-month contract, and I said, yes, that sounds great. He said there's just one thing: it’s in the adult industry, and I was like, yes! That sounds great!

I was so desperate for money, and that was one of the first jobs I had when I came back to the UK. It was brilliant - I loved it. It was so fun and out there. Remember, I spent six years out in Asia partying away, so working in a hardcore porn studio was more exciting than working in a nine-to-five boring temp job office in Slough! I learnt a lot about the industry. It's actually quite mundane to be honest. There’s a mundanity to any kind of industry and the adult film industry there's an element of routine. What scene's she doing? Oh, she’s just playing with the dildos. It is weird, but after you've seen the same thing happen for the fifth time you think okay, this is it now. When's my coffee break coming?

 

And now you’re doing comedy – how did that start?

About 3 and a bit years ago I got clean and sober and I'd kind of been pretending that I was a comedian for a couple of years. I'd host gigs - I wasn't really doing it. The moment you get clean and sober you're like, I'm scared of nothing! I have been out at Glastonbury for four days with people on ecstasy and I'm sober. Nothing can instil fear in you anymore. I just got on with it and put all my energy that I would have been using to get drunk or get high or score drugs, or walk home after a night out, into comedy. I'm still not there yet, but I’m keeping on working, trying to get better all the time, trying to spread my message of - I don't know actually, dick jokes and cokeheads!

 

Another best and worst question – this time about your gigs…

There's been quite a few small gigs that have been amazing. Rocking up to Halifax in Yorkshire, 120 people being there, and thinking, oh my god, they're all here to see me and they were properly up for it, really electric. There's been some beautifully magical gigs.09:19 It's been surprising` how well it's gone. I didn't expect the response to be so positive - I'm genuinely astounded.

In terms of worst gig, it was in Edinburgh. It was a late-night raucous rowdy one, and this guy gets up in the middle of the show, and I ask where' he's going, and he says, "I'm going to the toilet," and all of a sudden the crowd starts shouting and chanting "Piss in the cup! Piss in the cup!" So obviously I had to let him piss in a cup then go back and take him seat. I nearly got the rest of my run terminated. That was totally rock and roll through and through.

 

 Speaking of the Fringe, you’ve just done this year’s festival – how did that go?

It was amazing. It was the second time I've done Edinburgh with this show - the first time was on the free Fringe, and I smashed it out of the ballpark. It was crazy, 200 people ever night. And then I've been on tour and putting a lot of effort into doing that. The lovely guys and the Stand, who are quite a world, renowned comedy club, very picky - invited me which was lovely.

 

You talk a bit about your experiences dating through Tinder – what have you learnt from online dating?

That it's crap, and it doesn't work. I don’t think it's a good use of my, or anyone’s time, to be honest. Everyone's looking out for the next thing, it takes a lot of time, and it's two-dimensional get really caught in the ritual and intrigue around how this person might be, rather than who this person is. I will stalk them online before I meet them, I'll engage in "Oh, this is The One," and I'll get there, and it'll be some dude that I wouldn't even have looked at twice and I've invested all this time in trying to get to know him on the app and not even hear the sounds of his voice or the way he stands or the shoes he wears - shoes are a thing for me! All those things are giveaways. I'm trying a new app called In Real Life.

 

Have any of your Tinder dates recognised you from your presenting or comedy work?

I have got recognised from Tinder. I was chucked off Tinder during Edinburgh Fringe this year for basically advertising my show, so I did get recognized. I swiped on about 3000 men and all the people that I matched with I sent them an ad to my show. I was unceremoniously booted off for about four weeks, but I did get recognised. I have T-shirt that says, "You may recognise me from Tinder."

 

Some of your show is quite personal – how do you deal with putting yourself out there in front of an audience?

This is a show about the extremes I go to in life, and I'm sort of walking you through my shame. Obviously, I don't have shame, but it's a metaphor. At first, I felt like it would be met with negativity, but mostly audiences have identified with my mistakes and the vulnerability within the show, and behaviour. I've had a lot of messages saying that I really helped them, or it’s really good to see a woman talk about the things I talk about in the show. Some people have gone into a program of recovery because they recognised behaviours that I've showed within themselves. That's something I wasn't expecting when I started the show. I didn't think that I could make a difference. Connecting with one person and them being touched or moved or inspired by something that's you’ve done, that's been one of the best things about doing the show.

  

Finally, what can audiences expect from Walk of Shame?

It's going to be rowdy, lively, very funny, dark, emotional. It's going to be full, so that's going to be fun. It'll be a good old time. There is some audience participation at the beginning, but it doesn't matter where you sit. It’s done with love - I'm not a picking-on person.

 

Eleanor Conway's Walk of Shame tour is at the Nottingham Arts Theatre on Friday 10 November 2017.

Nottingham Arts Theatre 

Eleanor Conway

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