Fringe World Festival weekly comedy award-winning stand-up comic Eleanor Conway walks the walk with Walk of Shame Part 2 at Eden Court, Inverness
FRANK, funny and disarmingly honest – Eleanor Conway’s description of her show Walk of Shame Part 2 is a pretty much perfect snapshot of the comic herself.
“It’s such a fun show to do,” she enthused. “It’s a bit filthy, it’s a bit explicit, and it picks up four years later [from part one] where I’ve been sober for four years and I’m dealing with reality and I’m dealing with it badly because I realised that I’ve got no boundaries whatsoever, and I’m used to living in a blackout.”
But then, disarming honesty is at the heart of how Eleanor Conway has found her success in stand-up. The former music TV presenter has brought her unflinching stories of her old party days and new sober ways to audiences in comedy clubs across the country.
“When I started writing the first show, I started writing the show in 2014-15-ish and I was literally months sober, so it was all very new,” she said.
“And as I’ve moved through it, you know, I’m kind of developing as a person and as a comic and as a performer. Obviously the stuff I’m talking about is very different and I’m a sober woman now – I’m not a nutcase!”
Part two brings the story up to the present day – now Eleanor has been sober for several years, new challenges are presenting themselves. “To be honest, the first part was just like, I got wasted and this is what it was like. And then this show is like, ‘Oh, I’m sober now – everything should be simple but it’s not’.
“And the way I’m dealing with sort of sexual experiences – I’m trying to deal with it like a drunk woman. I’m trying to have drunk hook-up blackout sex, and the problem is I don’t blackout anymore – and that’s the problem.
“So it’s like, what do you do when you’ve got no boundaries, and you come from a place of no boundaries, and you’re now in a position where you have to put boundaries in because otherwise you’ll go mad.
“And there’s an element of me starting to be honest about my age – I’m starting to be honest about my body and how I feel about that, and I’m starting to be honest about the sexual experiences that I want. I’ve slept with some disgusting men, and I want better for myself, but what does that look like in sobriety?
“So I’m chasing young men for a lot of the show!” she added with a sudden laugh. “And it’s fun, but it’s not as fun as I thought it would be, and I talk about why.”
"I think that women, we’re allowed to be a little bit naughty in a sort of coquettish ‘Ooh! Wasn’t I a little bit naughty!’ way, and I find that I want to be more than that!"
However, the bracing level of honesty on display in her comedy is not just good for her – as she put it, “I feel like if I tell the worst things about myself, it’s only going to help me. No one can out me for it, can they? Nobody can ever sell a story or anything because I’ve already told everyone.”
But there is a wider societal context for her frankness. With men comfortable at discussing the filth and fury of the world, the question becomes why not women too?
“I think, as a woman, I’m always told to, or I always feel like I have to fit into small spaces to be authentic, or to be a real woman, or to be the perfect woman,” Eleanor said. “Smaller clothes, I have to fit into toilet cubicles to share my special authentic feelings – it’s a small space, you know?
“One of my biggest things that I loved growing up was Patsy from Ab Fab. What I loved about her was that it was the first time on telly I saw a woman being sort of like disgustingly naughty and revelling in it, and us loving her for it.
“Because I think that women, we’re allowed to be a little bit naughty in a sort of coquettish ‘Ooh! Wasn’t I a little bit naughty!’ way, and I find that I want to be more than that! I want to be full like a man can be full, in a consensual arena, and I want to be as candid as possible.
“And that’s good for boys and girls, because women get to feel like they’re accepted and they’re human, and the boys look at the women and go, ‘You guys are disgusting pieces of s*** – just like us!’
“There’s something really, really funny about watching women laughing at the most disgusting parts of themselves, and then men seeing that and actually there being some kind of actual equality in the room around that.”
Eleanor paused thoughtfully. “It’s sort of like dogs bathing in their own s***!” she added, before dissolving into laughter.
Eleanor Conway brings Walk of Shame Part 2: Reality Bites to Eden Court, Inverness on Thursday, June 6. The show starts at 8pm and tickets cost £13. For more info, go to www.eleanorconway.com