“Improv helps in all areas of life” – Lou Sanders on Shame Pig and comedy

By April 18, 2019

Comedy. Leeds.


Buoyed by last year’s Edinburgh Fringe award for her smash hit stand-up show ‘Shame Pig’, comedian, writer and actress Lou Sanders is, as always, a very busy bee, but she has not let her recent gong go to her head. “There was zero cash in it.”


After recently starring in Dave’s forthcoming series of team building comedy show ‘Taskmaster’, broadcasting next month, Lou has made several other TV appearances including her debut on ‘8 Out of 10 cats Does Countdown’, as well as chatting on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. For a proper flavour of Sanders’ idiosyncratic style check out her disarming yet darkly comic short ‘Elderflower’, showcasing considerable writing and acting talents. The comedian is now embarking on her first national tour, sharing ‘Shame Pig’ with the nation, including a visit to Leeds’ Hyde Park Book Club on 23rd May 2019.

Unsurprisingly, Sanders seems ebullient ahead of her stint on the road, after coming a long way since packing in “boring day jobs”, instead trying her hand at comedy. It’s a trait that runs in the Sanders family. “All my family are all funny,” she says, “and from early on I knew it was good currency to make people laugh. It meant they couldn’t punish you as much. I see kids doing that now – cracking a joke so the parent or teacher couldn’t be as angry. I did a course for two hours a week and then the five minute showcase and BAMMO – twelve years later – here I am at the middle!”


Sanders also turns to improvisational comedy for honing her craft although there are other indirect benefits, which perhaps explains why Sanders enjoyed ‘Taskmaster’ so much. “It’s out in May and I miss it already, I want to go back. Improv helps in all areas of your life – knowing that you trust yourself to speak and to say something that is okay, or to get out of it when you say something terrible – it gives you confidence. But I guess that’s not improv, that’s just life and we’re all doing that already.”


Naturally, a stand-up performer enjoys famine as well as feast and for Lou it is no different. “Best experiences are when your friends are on the bill, a new bit comes together and you’re saying something you really want to say. Oh, and you get paid loads of money. The worst is when you schlep a long way to do a gig to people not on your vibe and it makes you question everything. And then there’s a rail replacement bus.”


On a more serious note, Sanders, like many of her comedy peers, has faced some demons, a past relationship with alcohol permeating some of her material. Now sober, Sanders admits it has changed her as a comedian. “I was worried I wouldn’t be as funny, but it’s the opposite, way better in all areas; I can read the room more and make better choices.”


Sanders’ Twitter bio includes ‘Dick Magnet’, and she is not backwards at coming forwards, material including her take on relationships as well as chat-up lines. “One guy did a gaming trick [from ‘The Game’] and I had just read the book so I was like ‘Ha – you’re gaming me’, then I felt really bad for busting him. The best one I can’t remember but probably something horrifically rude – I think it’s funny to just be balls out to people. Not literally – though, if the joke fits. No, no, no actually, not literally balls out. Unless you have extremely nice balls.”


Predictably, Sanders has to deal with her fair share of hecklers. “My memory is terrible and heckle put downs are funny because they’re in the moment, but I did once tip a man backwards in his chair and drag him across the floor.”


Returning to Sanders’ short ‘Elderflower,’ a quirky tale of a newly acquired florists whose proprietor accidentally creates an unusual yet lucrative sideline for her fledgling concern, it strikes me, we could be looking at revolutionary new business opportunities for the beleaguered high street.


“Yes, 100%, there’s so many baby boomers getting old now, what else are we supposed to do with them? Very much a case of prostitute them or go home,” she says. “This is a very niche question for everyone who hasn’t seen Elderflower.”


Finally, Sanders confesses a love for Boggle, the word game she believes could constitute an alternative to war; although in cases where factions speak different languages, her alternative suggestion is the egg-and-spoon race. That would probably save an awful lot of lives, and who doesn’t love a nice omelette?


Lou Sanders is on tour until June; find all her tour dates at: