Lucy Porter is one of the most popular female comics in Britain. Ahead of her tour she tells MARCUS DYSCH how it feels to realise a dream.

For any aspiring comedy performer, the Edinburgh Festival presents a great opportunity to mingle with the best the profession has to offer and take the first steps towards a career in the industry. Many settle for taking a light interest, making odd appearances in the back rooms of pubs and social clubs, but Lucy Porter wanted to be different.

At last year's festival, her Happiness show, which comes to artsdepot next week, sold out its entire run. Things have certainly changed for the diminutive joker since her first visit to the festival as a teenager.

"I have been going up to Edinburgh since 1992," she chuckles. "First as a spectator, then as a journalist and now as a performer. It is such a good laugh. It is the biggest arts festival in the world, and so much goes on. It's like a holiday camp for comedians, you can get drunk and see your friends and so on.

"Most comics are quite nice people, but I still have my real mates. During the festival I always share a flat with an Australian comedian, Sarah Kendall, and last year I spent time with Dara O'Briain. It is nice to settle somewhere for a month rather than travelling around on tour all the time."

Porter may not yet be a household name, but she is comfortable with the way her career has progressed. While others hog the limelight, her own talents have not gone unnoticed as she has contributed to mainstream television and radio shows such as The 11 O'Clock Show and The Stand-Up Show. This summer she will have her own show at the legendary Edinburgh venue, Cabaret Bar.

"It is nice for me because I am going back to the Comedy Zone in the Cabaret Bar. I always thought I would like to do my own show and now it is like the dream has come true."

Porter's enthusiasm and natural wit is evident throughout our conversation, but she is determined to stay in touch with her roots and not let success go to her head.

"I did not really set myself goals in comedy," she says. "It is one of those things where it does not really help you. Famous comics often lose it a bit, they get rich and mix with celebrities."

In addition to her stand-up work, Porter, who is 32, is a well-respected comedy scriptwriter, and has provided scripts for performers such as Jimmy Tarbuck and Griff Rhys Jones. It is a side of her work which she is happy to fall back on whenever necessary.

"I started with just doing writing, before I did stand-up, so it is a nice way to make a bit of extra money, and also it can be quite helpful," she said. "If I am stuck with writing something for myself then it can be easier to write for other people and do something different. That sort of writing complements my stand-up quite nicely."

Her work has brought her an army of fans, who regularly post messages on her web site to discuss shows they will be going to, requesting autographed pictures, or sharing jokes. But others take things a little further, informing her of their most intimate desires, and even asking her out on dates. Is she not concerned at receiving such interest?

"It's really flattering, actually. Even when you are doing a tour you think, Why do people want to come and see me?', so it is nice that people can relate to what I am saying, but it can be a bit surreal."

The hugely successful Happiness show has received critical acclaim, largely due to Porter's willingness to mix with the audience and encourage people to enjoy the evening.

"The show is stand-up with a bit more theatrical stuff than I usually do. There will be some audience participation as well, with prizes. It will be a little bit like the Price is Right.

"A lot of the jokes are based on drink, drugs and sex, so I am trying to make it more intellectual but they are things people can relate to. You do not want to go for the lowest common denominator, but, if I am honest, they are the mainstay."

She recently appeared in the record-breaking run of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest alongside Christian Slater in the West End, further broadening her professional horizons. Despite the play's success, Porter says she would prefer to develop her radio work rather than make a swift return to the stage.

"I quite like radio, which is where I am getting most of my work at the moment," she says. "I have just done a show for Radio 4 which will be on in the summer. After the tour, I will be writing my stuff for my show for next year and for Edinburgh. So if people miss me at artsdepot this time, they will hopefully get another chance in 2007."

Lucy Porter appears at artsdepot, Nether Street, North Finchley, on Saturday, May 6, at 8pm. Tickets are priced £10 (£8 concessions) and are available from the box office on 020 8369 5454.