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Edinburgh has been integral to my career, says comedian Joe Lycett

Joe Lycett is a fast-rising star in the world of comedy (Matt Crockett)
Joe Lycett is a fast-rising star in the world of comedy (Matt Crockett)

HITTING the heights in Edinburgh is every comic’s dream but Joe Lycett was left on a massive downer after mid-flight misery.

The fast-rising star, new face of BBC hit The Great British Sewing Bee, was hired to perform on a flight to the capital.

“I was supposed to do 10 minutes of stand-up and I had agreed, thinking the passengers knew this was going to happen,” said Joe, 29. “But they didn’t and when I stood up with this speaker powered by AA batteries, everyone just looked at me as if I was mad.

“Someone timed me and I did just two minutes and 43 seconds of the set before sitting down. It was grim, a really horrible experience. I wrote some stand-up about it afterwards because I found it so traumatic.”

Birmingham-born Joe will be back in Edinburgh in November as part of his tour – the I’m About To Lose Control And I Think Joe Lycett tour – that will see him perform at Glasgow Academy on Tuesday and Perth Concert Hall on Wednesday.

The Edinburgh gig is at the 3,000-seater Playhouse, something Joe could never have dreamed of when he started performing in the city.

“I once played to just three people. Another time a couple in the front row kept their coats on and stormed out after 10 minutes saying, ‘Give us a ring when you’re funny’.

“But the city has been integral to my career because the festival is just extraordinary.

“My first show about eight or nine years ago was called The Lunchtime Club and I was wide-eyed with excitement that I was going to be playing in Edinburgh every day.

“I still have that pinch myself sort of feeling there. In that first year I’d cram in as many other shows as I could each day and I did over 100 gigs.

“You can’t help but learn and come back a much better comic. Edinburgh was where I cut my teeth and learned my craft.” Joe had another one of his pinch-me moments last week when he played the Palace Theatre in Manchester, selling out a venue where he used to sell ice creams and work behind the bar.

He has been a regular on numerous panel shows including Celebrity Juice, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Would I Lie To You? and Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

But signing up to replace Claudia Winkleman as the host of Sewing Bee, from the makers of The Great British Bake Off, will be his biggest project yet.

“It was a real curve-ball and I didn’t see it coming,” admitted Joe.

“It’s a lovey thing to be asked to do and my mum adores it, it’s her favourite show on telly, so she’s really excited.

“I’ve been trying to swot up on sewing but I think they’ve booked me because I don’t know much about it and that’ll be funny. I’ll be deliberately naive.”

Having never hosted something on his own, Joe has been trying to garner as much advice as possible.

And fellow comedian and Bake Off presenter Noel Fielding was one of the first to offer his support.

“I messaged Noel immediately asking what on earth I should do and he basically said to just be myself and I’d be fine,” adds Joe, who starts filming in August.

“And Claudia has been really nice too, but I know she’s a big act to follow.

“She makes it look all very easy but that’s years of work and I only hope I can do justice to filling her shoes.”

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