Eleanor Conway began her career as a music journalist, travelling the world and interviewing some of the music industry’s biggest names. A ferocious clubber and party girl, Eleanor has had an exciting life some of us can only dream of. Her first-stand up show, Walk of Shame, explores her colourful past and the problems of modern addiction, whether it be to alcohol or tinder. Hilarious and unashamedly candid, the Walk of Shame is a sambucca drenched comedy show that exploded at Edinburgh and is now touring across the country. We spoke to Eleanor ahead of her London dates about opening up, Tinder and standup as a form of therapy.
London Calling: Can you sum up for us what Walk of Shame is about?
Eleanor Conway: Walk of Shame is about the extremes I go through in my life. I took it up to the Edinburgh Fringe last year and now I’m taking it on its first national tour, which is just so exciting. I talk about sex, dating, sobriety and sambucca!
LC: It seems like you’ve had such an exciting life and had so many different experiences, is that fun to relieve on stage every night with the audience?
EC: The people that come to the show have a bit of a cheeky glint in their eye, or have hedonistic tendencies. And then on the other side there’s the nosy people who’ve lived pretty normal lives and they want to see how the other half live!
It’s my job to bring people with me and to have them like me by the end of it. I don’t necessarily come across as a good person in a lot of it. I just think it’s my job to be as honest as possible and to pretend the audience are my mates.
LC: Was there ever a sense of vulnerability that you were going to delve so deep into your personal experiences, or were you always willing and ready to share them?
EC: Oh no, I was absolutely petrified of being honest! I was convinced that people weren’t going to like me. But really it was the more vulnerable things that people actually liked. People know when you’re lying or not being authentic, they can sniff it out. In comedy, as long as you’re being authentic, the audience will give you a bit of slack and go along with it.
LC: Alongside exploring your own life you touch a bit on the millennial experience, such as the idea of Tinder and hookup culture – do you think audiences find the show relatable?
EC: Yeah! I’ve had grown men crying, loads of mum hugs from people telling me to ‘take care of myself’, and saucier members of the audience saying ‘oh yeah I’ve done that, say no more.’
I’m quite interactive so I like to go into the audience too. I like to hit on at least a couple of members of the audience each night. I’m trying to give up Tinder at the moment and this is a good way to meet people, so you can’t blame me for trying!
LC: It’s interesting how alongside alcohol Tinder is one of the obsessions you talk about in Walk of Shame!
EC: When I got sober, it didn’t stop me from acting obsessed around certain things, and Tinder was one of the things I’d get obsessed with. I get caught up in the ritual and the fantasy of who this person is going to be. I create this story of who this person will be before I even meet them, and when I get there I realise that it’s a letdown.
LC: The title makes the show seem quite lighthearted, but it’s actually got a much darker side to it. How did you translate those darker experiences you’ve had of addiction to a comedy show?
EC: Comedy comes from honesty, and in those situations, there’s sort of an absurdity to it and a weirdness. The kind of depravity of the situations you find yourself in. Who wants to hear about your life going great?
With Walk of Shame, it just came from getting sober and I totally credit writing this show with helping to keep me focussed on that in my early days. It was genuinely a lifeboat that I would cling to. The process could be quite painful, and really hard, but I felt like I wanted to tell people my story.
LC: Does it feel at times like performing Walk of Shame is a bit like therapy?
EC: It normalises all the crap parts of my life that I previously had a lot of shame around and talking about it on stage helped me to unlock some of that, because I started to detach emotionally from the experience. People would come up to me at the end, and they’d genuinely be touched. It’s a convoluted way of getting therapy, but Walk of Shame has been personally amazing for my self-growth, and if it does nothing else but that, then that's pay off enough.