She is one of Britain’s best-loved comics whose live tours sell out in a matter of hours.
But Helen Lederer, dubbed the ‘funniest woman in England’ by pal Dawn French, stunned comedy fans with a shock one-liner yesterday – she HATES doing stand-up.
The star of The Young Ones, Bottom, Absolutely Fabulous, and French and Saunders said that performing to packed crowds was “truly, utterly and honestly quite terrifying”.
And she revealed that her overwhelming fear of “fluffing the act” – or, worse, “f*cking-up a gag” – makes her retch backstage.
Lederer, 60, shot to fame in the early 1980s after appearing at London’s Comedy Store alongside the late Rik Mayall, Ben Elton, Harry Enfield, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.
But despite more than 30 years on the comedy circuit, and plans for a UK book tour next year, the mum of actress Hannah Lederer tweeted: “Poised to re-live the car crash of doing stand-up comedy as rehearse book tour”.
Her candid tweet, posted yesterday afternoon, ended with the hashtag “#Therapyessentialandcider”
Lederer’s blog adds: “I have a love-hate relationship with stand-up. It’s how I started and it at least let me loose on some amazing performers so I can’t moan.
“But I’d be a liar if I said I thoroughly enjoyed doing it because, it’s truly, utterly and honestly quite terrifying at times. Well, that’s what I tell my therapist who’s luckily too young to have seen me in the ‘80s.
“The fear of failure or silence or both is always at the back of my mind. It’s difficult to relax ‘into it’ as the therapist suggests when I feel I’m about to jump off a cliff naked and possibly throw up my lunch over the front row’.
Lederer’s stand-up career took off in the ‘80s after hit performances at the Comedy Store, the Edinburgh Fringe, on ITV’s Saturday Night Live, and at the first Just For Laughs comedy festival with Lenny Henry.
She went on to star in Bottom, The Young Ones, BBC’s Naked Video, and as the dippy Catriona in all five series of Absolutely Fabulous.
Tickets for her next stand-up tour, An Audience with Helen Lederer – which starts in February to coincide with the publication of her debut novel “Losing It” through Pan Macmillan– are expected to sell-out within days.
But Lederer, who appeared on ITV’s Splash last year, admitted in her blog: “Stand-up comedy is a mindset, it’s about believing in yourself 100% all of the time.
“It’s less about my material and more about believing – but I can get into a place where I torture myself with thoughts of messing up.”