Lydia will be your compère for the WORD! Comedy special. She is a performer and poet and the host and creative director of WORD! She and Abi Willock spoke about the excitement of the comedy special and WORD!’s collaboration with headline act Rob Gee.
Abi: Is the comedy special a one-off event, or can we hope to see more comedy extravaganzas in the future?
Lydia: It's a one-off that for the last few years has happened every year as part of Leicester Comedy Festival... The last time it happened was just before the pandemic, so we're doing it again with the same line-up and venue to make sure it wasn't us.
Abi: We’re so excited to see Rob Gee perform, how did you and WORD! come to be in collaboration with him?
Lydia: We met through a knife fight in a hospital carpark over 20 years ago. Jokes! Unusually for a medical setting there were no knives. I encountered Rob as a young person going through a tough time and having just dropped out of art school. He introduced me to poetry, successfully steering me away from more lucrative and financially stable career paths. Two decades on, Rob's status as a reformed psychiatric nurse and outrageously nice person with an international poetry resume and no criminal convictions - have made him a dream to include as one of our key Associate Artists.
Abi: You’ve been a performer for a long time now, how do you calm any pre-show nerves?
Lydia: I don't really. Nope, nothing to say about that... Ok, I suppose though (really) through a combination of preparation and perspective. If I've prepared, then however nervous I might feel I can tell myself that everything is in place for things to go well and everything else is the just the primeval vestige of fight or flight monkey-brain. If that doesn't work, then having a bit of perspective can help - that I'm not about to be eaten by a lion and the audience will be wanting me to do well (unless they're looking for a very niche experience...)
Abi: Where has been your favourite place to perform?
Lydia: I think my favourite gigs have been about the people rather than the place. So a gig I had at local night, Some-antics, about a year before the pandemic (everything in relation!) was thoroughly lovely because I felt really welcome - and the audience, as with WORD!s - was really warm... That and because collaboration and being part of a community makes me stupid-loved-up-fuzzy. I've also absolutely loved performing in more unconventional settings - so being poet-in-residence with Arriva Buses and Literary Leicester, and performing apocalyptic zombie poems on night buses to confused members of the public - was amazing! A couple of other really stand out gigs were at London's 100 Club and Royal Albert Hall - where you could have lit the atmosphere with a strong-out breath. Headlining Liv Torc's Hip Yak Poetry Shack at Womad was also epic - I performed some of my set whilst holding a small child (mine!) and the beautiful thing that Liv has built made it easy to shine. Ultimately, that's what you and everyone else concerned wants, and it's what we aim to give to those coming to any of our projects and events at WORD!
Lydia will perform as part of WORD!s Comedy Special this Tuesday, Feb 15th, 8.30pm @ Wygston House. See here for more