Christopher Richardson, the director of the Pleasance, is looking resplendent in trademark Panama and blue linen jacket as he climbs into his white Saab. 'I bought the jacket at C & A in the sales last week for pounds 35,' he says proudly. It's a bit of a special occasion - we're heading to the airport to meet the comedian Jo Brand off the plane. In three hours' time she is due to cut the cake at the Pleasance's 10th birthday party. Jo Brand's non- smoking flight is only five minutes late. She comes through the barrier wearing a long black baggy jacket, and lights up a fag. Her hair is typically unruly and her cheeks are slightly flushed. She embraces Christopher briefly. He comments admiringly on her tartan flight- bag: 'The bow tie I'm wearing later has got the same pattern]' Brand used to hate flying but has just completed a 'stop being afraid of flying' course and swears by it. 'I particularly liked being told what all the mid-flight sounds and shakes meant,' she says.
For some reason, Brand and Richardson start talking about Ronald McDonald. 'I knew a Ronald who got ill,' Brand says, 'and they insisted on taking off his make-up and costume before bringing him to hospital.' Richardson hopes that the plane ticket he provided was expensive enough (she will be making the trip twice more before finally hosting Best of the Fest 3 next Monday night) and explains how she will be jumping through a paper cake at the party. 'Fine, fine,' says Brand. 'Whatever you want. Do I have to hide first so nobody sees me?' Brand picks up the car phone and calls the comedian Jeff Green at their shared Edinburgh accommodation. 'I'm in a posh car with Christopher Richardson, king god of the Pleasance,' she tells him.