THERE have been some pretty monumental changes in Lucy Porter’s life recently.

Just a few years ago she was still single, self-employed and spending most of the year traipsing up and down the country on her own for her comedy gigs. Thankfully her Herculean touring schedule shows no signs of letting up, but otherwise it’s been pretty unfamiliar territory for the 44 year-old of late.

“I lived such a solitary life back then,” she says before she comes to Brighton to perform her Choose Your Battles Show. “Stand-up comedy is a very solitary pursuit – you never have to interact with other people in a meaningful way. But then suddenly I found myself with a husband and child and all the social complications that brings with it, like meeting other parents. I found there was much more conflict in my life.”

Porter has a son (John, six) and a daughter (Emily, eight). To all intents and purposes, child-rearing was the catalyst for Choose Your Battles, a show which is pretty much as it says on the tin. In a complex world, with major or trivial decisions to make every minute of the day, which matters should we take seriously and which aren’t worth worrying about?

Porter poses this question in relation to wider political trends in her show, but the starting point was her domestic family life. The comedian kept reading advice from parenthood manuals about “not sweating the small stuff”, but that proved easier in theory than practice.

“With parenting you have to decide a lot of things,” says Porter. “Is it important that my children learn to use a knife and fork, for instance? That’s a big battle I seem to be having with them at the moment. There are non-negotiable things like that but then there are less important stuff where you think, ‘I don’t really care whether they speak Mandarin’. Ultimately, you don’t want your children to grow up unpleasant, but how do you go about that?”

Like any relatively new parent, Porter often finds herself with more questions than answers as she navigates her middle-age life. Confusion seems to be a universal theme at the moment, with people scratching their heads about public votes or venting aimless spleen on social media. Porter admits she has absolutely no talent for argument – far from it.

“I’m terrible at it,” she says. “If I’m in a position where I’m asked to stand up for something I believe in, I gibber and get very emotional and probably end up crying. Even as I’m doing it I know it’s not the right way, that you should be calm and rational. But it’s not something that comes naturally.”

To rub it in, her husband is very good at it. Porter says people like him “don’t understand what it’s like” to go to pieces at the first sign of heated debate. Ironically, the comedian has no problem at all talking to her audience about the rare arguments she does have with her husband. “I’m very happy to discuss that,” she laughs.

Indeed, there is a strange paradox to Porter’s supposed fear of confrontation. The topics she covers in her stand-up routines – especially the political material – can sometimes “stir up a hornet’s nest”, as she puts it. It’s not that Porter is saying anything particularly controversial, just that there will always be one or two audience members that might disagree with her. “It’s difficult to avoid that,” she acknowledges.

Porter is convinced she missed out on payments from promoters in the early stages of her career because of her conflict avoidance strategies. Also, when she visited foreign markets while on holiday she would inevitably come away with ludicrously overpriced goods because he couldn’t haggle. “I would buy the world’s most expensive lace table cloth,” she says.

At points in Choose Your Battles, Porter turns to the audience for solutions to her dilemmas. Participation isn’t obligatory but the comedian says she finds her crowd’s suggestions genuinely helpful.

“I’m interested in exploring my own bafflement at the world and hearing what other people think,” she says, and while she adds that she is just as lost as anyone else when it comes to analysing contemporary politics, she still gives it a good go.

"It’s difficult to know what to stand up for,” she says. “Sometimes I think we’re sliding back towards fascism without realising it, but how do you fight that? It’s hard to know at what point you should stand up and draw the line when the world seems to becoming a more dangerous place all the time. Increasingly politics seems to be about single issues, which can be damaging.”

Ideally, Porter adds, she’d like to elect her own government to “tackle these things” but for now that’s confined to her dreams. In some senses, her shows take on the feel of a cabinet meeting, though – albeit one where she does most of the talking. “I’m clueless as to what we can do, but I want to talk about it with an audience.”

Having performed at the Edinburgh Fringe for over 15 years, Porter often has the dubious tag of “stalwart” attached to her. She says she might her younger self might have balked if she’d been told she’d still be relentlessly touring at the age of 44, but her love of live comedy has never died.

“You get to your middle-age years and realise you’ve still got things to say,” she says. “It’s important that women don’t fade away when they get older – it’s still not that common to see middle-age women on television. So I feel like I’m doing a public good as well as keeping myself busy.”

While the world may be full of uncertainty for the comedian, she can be very content with her lot. She’s long cemented her reputation as one of the most dynamic comics on the circuit and has a loving family. But I wonder if she ever has a glossy nostalgia for the time before her life changed forever, when everything was a bit simpler perhaps. Her answer is emphatic.

“Oh my God, yes. I think I can say this with no disrespect to my family, but everybody sometimes thinks ‘wouldn’t it be nice to live in a hermetically sealed bubble’. Obviously I’m happy with where I am now but sometimes I do look back fondly on my filthy bedsit in Elephant and Castle when I would get up at midday to let the food delivery man in.”

Lucy Porter
Komedia, Brighton, February 14,