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
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre