Award winning Laura Lexx is fast becoming a household name in the world of comedy. Fresh from performing a sell-out show at the Soho theatre, London, Laura’s is the latest big name to join the talented crew at NextUp comedy, with an hour live special of her five-star rated, one woman show: Trying.
I’m always incredibly envious of anyone who can make others laugh, to me it’s the ultimate talent. I’m also a big fan of advocates, the folk amongst us who boldly raise their voices and speak out about those issues which are so often suffocated by silence.
I was therefore rather in awe to meet someone who has the ability to combine both.
Whilst being infertile is by no means funny, there’s a certain amount of comedy which inevitably applies. Film, tv and books have all tried to make their own light out of the devastation but, unless infertility has been a first-hand experience, fictional couples tend to fall pregnant when all hope has been relinquished, and a happy ending prevails with no science required.
But Laura’s story doesn’t have the Hollywood ending. Instead she presents a brutally truthful account of infertility and depression, which has been widely received and greatly acclaimed. In Trying, she truly challenges stigmas, breaks taboos and entertains, whilst embracing grief and anxiety.
“It’s my depression and I’ll do with it as I please” – Laura Lexx, Trying
I’d arranged to interview Laura in her local, Brighton coffee shop and, after a confusing encounter involving a camera crew, (thankfully not for us) and a sandwich, (sadly not for me) I settled in and began scanning the room.
There’s a bizarre anticipation in meeting a stranger, especially one you’re about to get deeply personal with. Sure, I’d seen internet clips, read the press release, numerous times, and done my journalistic research, but still didn’t know entirely what to expect.
And then she entered, looking every bit as similar as her photos show, and with the same energy and openness and companionability, she displays on stage.
The interview had commenced!
For those of you who don’t know Laura she’s, in her own words, trying; trying to get through therapy, trying everyone’s patience and trying, unsuccessfully, for a baby. She’s also, in my words (!) immensely likeable, warm and compelling.
“I’m just trying my best in a situation that’s a continual non-event, infertility is not black and white and I don’t always know what to do.”
Laura began suffering with obsessive anxiety in 2017, just shortly after her and husband, Tom, decided to try for a family. After admitting help was needed and beginning with therapy, she started working on an act which was, initially, about the “issues ticking over in my mind”; climate change and the overuse of plastic, but which organically developed into the show you see today; a candid, humorous and eye-opening insight into her life:
“Infertility is a real conversation stopper and I’ve always thought it would be helpful if people could understand it more. It was important to me that Trying didn’t become a mainly sad show with a few jokes thrown in, it needed to be true stand up. So that’s what I wrote.”
And what has been tremendously received, not only by those living with infertility, or our supporting family and friends, but also by audiences who have no knowledge of charting basal temperatures, taking anti-depressants or failing to conceive:
“It’s difficult because people mean well. They’re trying to be helpful and supportive, but aren’t always. And they don’t know how to act because there’s been no tragedy, yet there is so much grief.”
Despite undergoing various fertility tests, Laura and Tom were discovered to have unexplained infertility: “I never realised just how much I wanted to be a mother until nothing happened. The psychological impact is huge and affects your whole life. I didn’t just want a nice smelling baby, I wanted to go shopping with my twelve-year-old daughter, and argue with an eighteen-year-old. My children would have become people, who I was looking forward to getting to know.”
In the show, Laura describes trying to and not succeeding in getting pregnant, as; “the most powerless thing I’ve ever done”, which will truly resonate with anyone who has ever been there. To me, she poignantly likened the experience to failing the most important job interview, every single month, discovering that:
“Yet again, this role of being a mother was not mine.”
Laura’s always had a passion for performing and, whilst studying drama at the University of Kent, discovered a love for improv comedy. This, in turn, led her to forge her way in the world of stand up: “I’ve always been interested in the psychology of humour and the physiological side of laughter.” And whilst being a comedian might feel like the most daunting job, for someone who suffers with anxiety, she lives by the belief that: “If it’s terrifying, keep on doing it until it’s less terrifying.”
Trying is full of perception and laughter, yet the most important message Laura wants to get across is that:
“It’s only asking for help that really gets you help, and it really is okay to not be okay.”
In a show which is charged with sheer honesty, emotion and hilarity, Laura is raw, courageous and a natural comedian. It wasn’t really until I got home and thought about the discussions we’d had, and the eloquence with which she found the strength to answer, that I realised the true extent of her bravery.
The enormity of what Laura has done, and continues to do, is truly overwhelming. In a world where society tends to shy away from the awkward conversations in life, Laura isn’t. Instead she’s continually putting herself out there, informing, educating and supporting, whilst also entertaining and helping others to laugh. There’s such a beautiful self-deprecating vulnerability to her show, that whilst she might quip “I’m not one of life’s heroes”, she’s most certainly become one of mine.
“There’s no rule book and nobody really knows what to do, so we just have to keep on trying.”
To watch Trying, Laura’s brilliant award winning, five-star show, it’s available for streaming exclusively on NextUp comedy. And, click here, to find out more about Laura, and her new show ‘Knee Jerk’, which will preview at the Edinburgh festival this year.
Supporting someone, through infertility, is not an easy feat. It’s only after our journey to conceive that I had the strength to fully put into words the emotional havoc it wreaks. Click here to read my letter to family and friends.