Eleanor Conway: ‘We’re all humans, we’re all flawed, we’ve all f***ed up’

Eleanor Conway's Walk of Shame comes to The Albany in Great Portland Street

Eleanor Conway's Walk of Shame comes to The Albany in Great Portland Street - Credit: Archant

Comedian Eleanor Conway has flaws and won’t apologise for it. She talks with ZOE PASKETT about addiction, tinder and her first stand up show

“I think that the connotation of feminism means quite a few different things to different people,” says comedian Eleanor Conway, talking about her debut stand up show Walk of Shame. “I don’t go to any lengths to articulate that in the show. The show is just about me as a human really.

“I’m unapologetically who I am and the fact that I am a woman is just a thing, isn’t it? I’d say yeah I’m a feminist, but I’m a feminist and I reserve the right to be flawed and unapologetic.”

If Walk of Shame can be described as anything, apologetic isn’t it. Based around the extremes she goes to in life, it has addiction at its core, something Conway has experience of dealing with.

“I’m recently sober,” she says. “I’ve been sober for about two and a half years and I talk about how I’ve come through this journey taking quite a lot of extremes in my life, whether it be around sex or substances or drink or travelling 6000 miles with a man I just met.

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“It documents the patterns that I seem to undertake and my real conflict with trying to reach some sort of stability. I was desperate for something to hold onto and writing this show has given me something to hold onto and it’s given me a vehicle to put work into and to see the results from.

“I just got pissed all the time before, but this is a consistent piece that I’ve worked on and built up and it’s quite a new feeling for me really.”

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This might be the Old Street local’s first comedy tour, but she’s a veteran music presenter, working for MTV, Virgin and Ministry of Sound, and if you’ve been out in Shoreditch, chances are you’ve bumped into her compering some night or other. She hosts the genius Gospeloke at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen (karaoke with a gospel choir as back up), and Musical Bingo (self explanatory).

“All of those have helped me in terms of the performance element of things. I’m definitely not an amateur when it comes to that but in terms of crafting a show whereby I’m presenting myself as a vulnerable person and I’m not hiding behind a glossy format, then this is the first time.

“And that really took a leap of faith because I’ve hidden behind a format before but now I’m kind of going ‘these are all my flaws, please love me!’

“We’re all humans, we’re all flawed, we’ve all f***ed up. And either you relate to it, you go ‘oh I exhibit some of those tendencies’, or you recognise that you don’t have that in your life and you think ‘thank god that I don’t have that’.”

One of her topics of conversation that many Londoners will now be able to relate to is Tinder, which Conway has experience with having been on it “ever since it started. As soon as I realised there’s another dating app I’m like yeah I’m on that.”

Has she got a favourite?

“None of them! Real life. Have you heard of that app? It’s amazing. I’ve had to go back to real life. Now that I’m sober, I can’t drink a bottle of wine to get me through the rest of the date anymore.”

Part of her set talks about the fantasy world you build up in your mind in between setting a date and meeting the person. Those expectations are never met, she says, and there’s no substitute for seeing someone in the flesh.

“We are women and I can only speak for myself but I’ve got this bulls**t checklist. He’s got to have brown hair, be athletic, be 6 ft 2. I’ve got this checklist, but if I look at the sort of people I’ve ended up being attracted to in real life – a short guy, a little bit chubby, bald – you can’t put your finger on what you fancy about someone.”

The character Conway portrays isn’t a comedy persona, telling stories about her life as she sees and experiences them. She has no time for pretending to be a perfect person with all of her ducks in a row.

“People don’t want to see that! People want to see how your life is s**t. They want to feel like their life is better than yours.

“I try to make it about me being the negative person in it. I don’t come out very well in the show, I don’t come out smelling of roses.”

While her confident and frank storytelling may not appeal to everyone, it has undoubtedly won over a large number of people and continues to do so, gaining crowds of 180 people a night at Edinburgh Fringe and rave reviews.

She says she didn’t expect it to do so well but thinks that there could be more to it: a book, or maybe a Netflix series.

“I’m sort of working on that in the background. I’ve got loads of time now because I don’t have hangovers to deal with and I’m not trying to get home from zone six without any battery on my phone. I’ve got a lot of time these days. I don’t rule anything out.

“I worked really hard to put the show together. Nobody helped me, nobody’s given me anything. It’s something that I’ve gone out and worked for and earned.”

The Walk of Shame tour comes to The Albany in Great Portland Street on March 25 and 30. Tickets at eleanorconway.com/gigs

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