COMEDY: Jo Brand Civic Hall, Guildford
Monday 12 May 1997
During one completely unrepeatable routine about maggots somewhere they shouldn't have been (which Channel 4 had refused to broadcast), even Brand seemed worried about shocking the gin-and-Jag belters and warned them to put their fingers in their ears. When she had elicited the requisite number of "oohs", she added with special relish: "Do tell that to as many people as possible over dinner."
But, like a ravenous crowd in front of a table full of cream cakes, they simply scoffed the lot. The audience were so well tuned to Brand's particular brand of humour that the very mention of the word "chocolate" early on was greeted with whoops of delight.
Brand is canny in getting her retaliation in first; she voices the negative thoughts people may have about her appearance and turns them to her own comic advantage. Fat may be a feminist issue, but Brand proved it can also be a barrel-load of laughs. Clad in her standard-issue baggy black T-shirt and trousers offset by glittery Doctor Martens, she laughed: "I quite like looking like this because at least I don't have to drink Martini every time I go to a party." She went on to reveal that she had just spent the weekend in Norway where whaling is still legal - "so I couldn't go swimming, obviously".
She also confronted the widely held canard that she is gay: "I know you think I'm a lesbian," she teased at one point, "but I'm heterosexual. So, men, be very scared because I want to shag you."
People are drawn to her honesty about herself. We can all identify with someone suffering from a terminal lack of self-esteem - even if we wouldn't want to parade ours in front of several hundred strangers every night.
As a performer, Brand gives and receives great warmth. She passes the acid test for a popular comedian: people laugh before she's even said anything. Apart from the singing - she did an ill-advised version of "The Lady is a Tramp" as an encore - the only danger is that sooner or later audiences may tire of her schtick. How many different ways can you say "cakes are great and men aren't"?
Jo Brand's national tour continues at Watford Colosseum on Wed (01923 445000); Manchester Bridgewater Hall on Thurs (0161-907 9000). Tour info: 0891 455480
Arts & Ents blogs
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 Hells of residence: Inside Macedonia's horrifying student accommodation - where the walls are green and the food is black
- 2 First Kiss video: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 3 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 4 Rampaging elephant smashes up house but then 'saves crying baby trapped under debris'
- 5 Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to Arsenal and England striker