Living the Cheapskate life: arts & LGBTQ+ journalist Zoe Paskett on wondrous Walthamstow & London's best free comedy
Zoe Paskett is an arts and LGBTQ+ journalist who runs LMAOnaise, a weekly newsletter recommending comedy shows alongside comedy producer Maddy Bye, half of sketch duo Siblings. They recommend all sorts of comedy shows from stand-up to sketch to the wonderfully alternative, but focus on those that often miss out on mainstream coverage. LMAOnaise's first live comedy show is taking place at the Clapham Grand this month.
Where do you rest your head?
Usually Walthamstow (although I'm on a temporary hiatus from London right now while I get my life on track!).
What’s something amazing about your area that only the locals know about?
Hollow Pond. It’s a half-hour walk away from me but my idea of “local” is a moving target these days. It’s a beautiful lake on Wanstead Flats surrounded by trees and full of geese, and there’s boat hire as well so you can go rowing in the sunshine. IMO it’s one of the loveliest outdoor places in London.
Where’s your favourite free place to visit in the city?
Any museum or gallery - big ones like the National Gallery or the V&A will always pull me in, and the smaller ones as well. The William Morris Gallery is gorgeous, and Whitechapel Gallery always has something really interesting going on.
What would your perfect no-spend London day would involve?
A lot of walking, probably around the east London canal area, with a thermos flask of tea and a backlog of podcasts - they’re always getting ahead of me. There are some cows on Walthamstow Wetlands that I love saying hello to. They’re not particularly bothered by me though.
Where are the best places to see comedy for free in London?
Angel Comedy has got to be the one for me. There have been weeks where I’ve spent multiple days at the Camden Head/Bill Murray pub. It has always been a place which treats all comedy the same, from newcomers to massive names, and I really appreciate that everyone gets a look in. Also, while it is technically free, you absolutely should chuck a few quid in the bucket afterwards to show your appreciation!
What’s a particularly memorable London comedy experience you’d had?
I’m always banging on about this because there couldn’t be anything more perfect for me than comedy and musicals, but I had the best night possibly ever at one of Amusical’s shows. It’s hosted by Jayde Adams and Kiri Pritchard-McClean, who bring comics on stage to sing musical theatre with the accompaniment of a full band.
This particular night was the Valentine’s Day special and the band kept on playing after the show and we all sang and danced to musical songs for about three hours. There was one moment where Jayde was singing 'Circle of Life' and everyone was following her in a train around the room pretending to be the animals from the Lion King stage show - it was so surreal and honestly the best workout I’ve ever had.
How would you describe London’s comedy scene?
It’s indefinable - there is so much variety but crucially it is always there for you. Before the global pandemonium, one of my favourite things was getting to the end of the day and deciding I wanted to see a comedy show and just turning up somewhere to find something totally unexpected and brilliant.
Are there any comedians we should be watching out for?
ALWAYS! It's so difficult to choose and there's a big fear of leaving people out but this is a tiny sample of what I love: Jen Ives is an incredible stand-up and all-round good egg. Crybabies are a sketch trio who did one of my absolute favourite shows called Danger Brigade. Leila Navabi is a stand-up and comedy writer who is absolutely going to be a big name. I love everything that Kemah Bob does, she's the funniest and I adore her drag king persona Lil Test Ease. And then Siblings is a big one - Maddy Bye, who I do LMAOnaise with, and her sister Marina are incredible sketch comedians and actors and make me weep with laughter at all times.
What are your favourite small businesses in London?
Oh god this is one of those times when someone asks you your favourite thing and you forget all of the things you’ve ever known about… So I’ll just pick one: There’s this brand new cafe in Clerkenwell which my friend opened at the beginning of March called Clerkenwell Kiosk. It’s in a park rangers’ hut in St James’ Churchyard and it’s so beautiful and everyone should go there for their coffee and snacks.
In three words, what makes someone a Londoner?
Open to experiences.
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