Interview with Amy Lamé

by Karen Shaw

AmyLame2She was working as a waitress in a London Cafe

From Teddy Boys and Elvis quiffs to petticoats and chignons, it’s time to dust off your Creepers and bobby socks and prepare for an evening of entertainment as the Showzam! Carnival Ball returns for its seventh year in  the opulent Blackpool Tower Ballroom on Saturday 15th February.

Amy Lamé, co-founder of the Olivier Award winning performance group Duckie, will present the best from the weird and wonderful world of variety and cabaret.

“It’s going to be the very best of variety shows. “We’re keeping the est of Blackpool but bringing it into the twenty first century,” she squeals.

Amy, best known for her one woman shows and performance group (and club) Duckie, is ‘over the moon’ to be hosting the event.

“I absolutely love Blackpool and actually brought Duckie here for the first ever Showzam! I’m thrilled to have been asked to return as host of the Carnival Ball.

“We’ve Britain’s Got Talent semifinalists and the UK’s number one jive and swing band The Jive Aces performing throughout the evening along with a host of other acts including Chinese pole artiste Edd Muir, one of the  UK’s leading contortionists Delia du Sol and NoFit State Circus will perform a floor show specially commissioned for Showzam! We’ve got a rock and roll theme, so it’s like a fifties extravaganza. I hope everybody gets their dancing shoes on.

“I’m from a seaside town as well so the first time I ever went to Blackpool it was like coming home. I feel such an affinity to Blackpool and to be in the Tower Ballroom again is amazing. It’s one of the most beautiful rooms  in the entire world. I’ll never forget the first time I set foot in. It took my breath away.”

“I just love variety and entertainment, says Amy, “but with a very arty edge and I think that still fits within the great tradition of variety but people are just doing it in a different way and it’s keeping it alive. Not everybody can do The Tommy Cooper stuff. We have to be pushing forward and I think there’s been such a big revival in this style of performance.

“Years ago when I started Duckie it was really hard to get performers and ow we’re bursting at the seams. It’s  exciting that performers are taking this tradition and bringing it smack into the twenty first century.

“There’s nothing like a live performance and I think it’s really easy for people to sit on their sofas and watch Britain’s Got Talent but it doesn’t compare to watching a live show. I’m biased because I’m a performer.”

Amy remembers when she first went to a show: “I was eight years old, there’s a picture of me sitting in the audience and my little face is full of excitement, looking ready to burst.
“It’s important for children to experience live shows, in the hope that  they will continue to visit the theatre when they are adults. I’m aware that for most money is tight, but there are plenty of local theatres they can visit  who put amazing shows on.”

Leaving New Jersey, America, in pursuit of excitement and adventure, Amy landed on English soil 21 years ago. “I think I had such a romantic view of the north of England. You know, walking round in the rain, listening  to The Smiths, seemed like my ideal really. I could do that every day of my life. I came over for an adventure.”

Her first adventure in London was working in a café serving up egg and chips and before she knew it she was serving up jokes.

“That’s where I met friends who were working in the arts and they suggested I break out and become a performer. I’d never been on stage before.”

Her first debut with her one-woman show Gay Man Trapped in a Lesbian’s Body, attracted attention from a TV producer who offered Amy a job as a TV presenter.

“In the words of Tommy Cooper my career was launched ‘Just like that!’ I was very lucky,” she laughs. “My dad wanted me to be a lawyer, probably because he wanted someone to represent him in court so he wouldn’t have to pay the fees!

AmyLame“I love radio and live performance, I love having to think on your feet, I love interacting with the audience, I love people, I love chatting, I love having banter, and I love just being in the moment. It makes you feel alive.”

Love is obviously a key word for Amy, and to add to her endless list of loves is Accrington, which she affectionately calls Wacky Accy!

“My partner’s from Accrington and we visit there a lot. I’m a Burnley fan as well so I enjoy going to Turf Moor, it’s great.

“I love the North, especially the people. Northerners have a much better sense of humour, very self-effacing and no nonsense. They don’t put up with any rubbish.

“I’m a British citizen now. People struggle to comprehend why after being here over 20 years I still have an American accent. If you were a northerner and came down south and lost your accent, people would question if you were denying your roots.” Considering her Northern connections I wondered despite living in London if she could possibly be considered as a fully-fledged Northerner she replies: “I hope so. Did I forget to mention  that I make a mean broth?”

But do you add dumplings? I ask. “Yes, of course,” she replies