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Comedy Fest hot pick: Beth Vyse

Comedy Fest hot pick: Beth Vyse

When you think of someone, two or three defining characteristics generally spring to mind — tall and bubbly, or sporty, perhaps. If, like Beth Vyse, that person has had cancer, you can pretty much guarantee “cancer” shoots to the top of the list. “I’m trying to get over that,” says the English comedian, who is one boob down but thankfully in rude health.

The British comedian was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 28. In November 2014, she got the okay after five years clear. “You can go into the world knowing you’re the same as everyone else,” the doctor told her, which was a bizarre thing to hear, says Vyse. It came after a long string of surreal and ridiculous experiences that are fodder for her festival show As Funny As Cancer, from hastily selecting a new nipple to being told, if she was lucky, photos of her chest may end up in a surgery brochure.

Vyse’s talent for performing was spotted at high school when she pretended to cry in home economics class.

Vyse grew up in Stoke-on-Trent in a not-particularly-dramatic family. Her talent for performing was spotted at high school when she pretended to cry in home economics class. She had a pretty easy run from there, taking part in a theatre exchange to Soweto, South Africa, where her love of acting took hold. She went to drama school in London, cruised into the Royal Shakespeare Company after graduating, and worked on stage and television until cancer forced her to take stock.

She has done a lot of character comedy, but this stand-up show is by far her most revealing. “The first time I did it, I sat on a stool telling the story,” says Vyse. “It was so personal I was shaking and getting words mixed up. The next time I stood up. The next time I had props.”

The show is cathartic and audience members going through similar struggles have told her it gives them hope, but with her surreal take and the help of an inflatable penis and Dolly Parton dream sequence, Vyse keeps her raw story from being overly hefty. “You can’t take life too seriously,” she says.

As Funny As Cancer, April 23 and April 26-30, Vault at Q Theatre. Book tickets.

 

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