Stuck In A Lift
Rotherham’s most glamourous stand-up turned wellness guru talks Kylie, coffee and the perfect temperature for a backstage dressing room
The world is sick and Myra DuBois is here to heal it. “If we’re being real, I think I’m the thing that’s most desperately needed at the moment,” says DuBois, part Lily Savage, part Mrs Doubtfire, all her authentic self. “But we must remain humble, mustn’t we?”
Making the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2020 when her first solo show had already made the jump from the Fringe to The London Palladium, DuBois put her stand-up career on hold during lockdown. Using the time to refocus on what mattered most, she’s now back on the road with a new comedy tour aimed at making us all well again.
“I found I was very good at telling other people what’s wrong with them,” she explains, sweetly deadpan. “So now I’ve packaged that into a show that features other uplifting things such as singing, dancing, tightly executed choreography… all of the above and more. It’s very much needed.”
Before the healing begins, we got stuck in a lift with Myra Dubois to ask her the important questions.
Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Living or dead?
I’ll pick a dead woman then because they’ll be nice and quiet. I’m a solitary thing, really. And that often surprises people because I go around and I tour and I work with the public, but I do like my own company. So if I was stuck in a lift I’d want someone who was nice and quiet.
So you’d like to be stuck in a lift with… a dead woman?
I mean, only their spirit. Not their physical form. I don’t want to be stuck in a lift with a rotting corpse. I just want a very quiet spectral orb. Maybe the energy of the spectral orb will merge with my own and we’ll create some sort of pan-realm entity.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
A rotting corpse. But if I had to pick a person, I think it would probably be the polar opposite of the nice quite dead orb. I’m not a fan of small talk. And it’s forced on you nowadays with such vigour. You can’t even go for a meal anymore: as soon as it comes to paying for the bill it’s, “what are you doing with the rest of the day?”, “have you had a nice day?”, and so on. You have to spend all this energy talking to someone just because they want a tip. So that’s my two answers: either a waiter who won’t shut up or a rotting corpse. Either or.
What’s the weirdest interaction you’ve ever had with a famous person?
Many years ago I was at a party at Shoreditch House during fashion week. I love fashion. I love clothes. I love aesthetics. But I don’t like people that quote unquote “work in fashion” because they run around with clipboards and smartphones all trying to feel important. It’s too peacocky. People trying to edge space. I can’t bear it. Anyway, I was regaling these feelings to someone at a poolside table at the top of this hotel. How much I hate people that work in fashion… how people that work in fashion are the very worst… And it was only after the conversation it was revealed to me that I’d been speaking to Kate Moss. Fortunately, she’s from Croydon, and I think that just innately grounds one, doesn’t it?
What was the last show that you went to?
I went to go and see The Rocky Horror Show in Australia when I was touring there in January. My own show wasn’t quite ready but as we say in the business, “it was good enough for Australia…”. I was offered tickets to see Jason Donovan play Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter and he was absolutely marvellous, but that was a few months ago now. You’d have thought a patron of the arts like myself would frequent the theatre but I’m afraid I’ve just been so busy.
What’s on your rider?
So this is interesting, I was recently talking about this very subject. People like to think of riders as a list of outrageous demands but they’re not. They’re very practical. One of the things on my rider is the temperature of my dressing room, but it’s entirely practical. I don’t wear much makeup, just a lightly tinted moisturiser, but if that dressing room’s too hot it’ll all slide off my face. And I’ll go on stage looking like a Yankee Candle that’s spent half an hour next to a radiator.
What work of yours didn’t get the attention that it deserved?
All of it. And I don’t mean that in a selfish way. I mean it in a very giving and compassionate way because the general public needs my work, you know?
What did 12-year-old you imagine that you’d be doing now?
Oh, exactly the same thing. I’ve always been the same. I was performing from birth. My first words were “thank you”. I remember being a very little girl doing shows in the backyard with my sister, Rose. Mother used to do a little bit of singing as well – not top-quality shows like mine, just very common cabaret performances in pubs. I didn’t choose show-business, show-business chose me. I am merely a vector for the cavalcade of talents that compromises me.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
I’m often distributing advice but I’m very rarely the recipient. As a Gemini, I can see everything from two angles, which means I’m always right.
We can leave that one out if you like?
No leave it in. “The unadvisable Myra DuBois”, there’s your headline.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I was a glass collector in a working man’s club, and then I moved on to the stages. I’ve always been on a rung of the ladder, really. I wouldn’t even say glass collecting was the worst job I’ve ever had either, because it was all steps in the same direction. You know? I don’t believe in hierarchy, and that’s very benevolent of me because I’m at the top.
If you had to have a song playing every time you walked into a room, what would it be?
Probably ‘Moonlight Sonata’. I think it would calm everyone down from the excitement of seeing me in the flesh. A little bit like when they put classical music in rough tube stations. It just said yes: “She’s here. Take a breath. Calm down. Everything will be alright”.
What’s the skill that no one else knows that you’re great at?
You see, I’ve always been very upfront with my capabilities. If I excel at something, I don’t keep it a secret. But I can make a very good cup of tea, but I don’t go telling everyone that because then they might ask me to do it. Do you know what my trick is? Squeezing the tea bag against the cup with the spoon.
Do you let other people make it for you when you’re on tour?
When I’m on the road, I’m a coffee girl. In fact, one of my greatest pleasures is getting a little roadside coffee from those little machines in the stationery shops. I’m trying not to say brand names here, but it’s Costa in WHSmith… I’ll often be hurtling down the motorway in the Myra cavalcade and I’ll have to stop for a cup of machine coffee. People really won’t be expecting me to be this relatable.
What do you hate that everyone else loves?
‘Padam Padam’. That song has felt like an attack. I can’t even open Instagram now. It’s on everyone’s story. And it’s diminishing returns on the same joke as well. It’s always some footage of something – Hyacinth Bucket walking past a bush or something – with ‘Padam Padam’ playing in the background. Every time your thumb accidentally goes on Stories, it’s PADAM PADAM PADAM… I hate it.
Do you have any superstitions?
I don’t have superstitions, I have core beliefs. If I call something a superstition, it sounds like I’m questioning the validity of it. But one thing I have to do is sit down and have a quiet moment in the mirror before I go on stage. You have to stop and just check in with yourself before going forward. But that’s a core belief. So is not walking across three drains in row. I don’t know what’s supposed to happen if you walk over three drains, but I won’t do it.
I don’t want to jump the gun, but I think this interview might be this generation’s Frost/Nixon…