Jenny Eclair: the first blonde in space

And the 1995 Perrier Award for Comedy goes to... a woman?

It came as something of a surprise to Jenny Eclair when she was nominated last Wednesday for the Perrier comedy award. "I woke up laughing, then had a little cry," she said. "I'm shocked to the tits." Not that she thought she stood a realistic chance of winning. Sure, everyone recognised she had one of the strongest shows on the fringe, but there was just the slight problem of her gender, not to mention the lewd nature of her material.

She was looking on her nomination as a sympathy vote. "I'm riding the Liz Taylor ticket. You know how she always used to get nominated for an Oscar when she had a tumour on her spine or a hip replacement... It's more a reward for long service." When asked whether she stood a realistic chance of winning, she responded with, "Don't be daft."

Twenty four hours later, Jenny Eclair holds the silver Perrier trophy on high. "I'm the first blonde in space," she yells at the disbelieving schmoozers below. In its 15-year existence, the award had never gone to a woman. Sooner or later the law of averages was going to work out. On Saturday night it did. Jo Brand came close three years ago; Musselburgh stand-up Rhona Cameron was strongly fancied this year, until she went and, allegedly, nutted a policeman. Despite a wide-held assumption that Boothby Graffoe was going to land the honours, Eclair, with her show at the Pleasance, broke the duck.

Thankfully the panel had the good sense not to let the filth-factor count against her, just as it didn't prevent Frank Skinner from winning the award in 1991 with some of the bluest material ever heard outside Bernard Manning's Embassy Club. At the very least, she hopes that, after 12 years slogging it out on the circuit, she'll not have another three-and- a-half week Edinburgh burn-out inflicted upon her. "They can't make me, can they?" she wails. "I'm on my knees. I'm going to change direction and become a supermodel at 35."

Along with Eclair and Cameron, American Diane Ford is the only other woman to be granted a post-9pm slot at one of the big three Edinburgh venues. Like Eclair her comedy is relationship-based, and with three marriages to choose from she's not short of material. A no-prisoners "road comic" and five-time nominee for Best Female Stand-Up at the American Comedy Awards, she looks as cute as Wilma Flintstone but cuts up like Bette Davis. "You know that saying," she drawls. "Men don't make passes at women that wear glasses... Most men I know'll fuck a tree."

Whereas Eclair's in-yer-face-down-yer-throat-and-out-the-other-end tactics aim to leave her audience shellshocked, Ford tries for a subtler approach. "Men like to have sex after an argument. For a woman it's like eating chocolate cake after you puke... Well it is, and now you know."

Ask the pair why they target sex and men and they concur almost word for word. Ford: "Women are by nature more obsessed with personality and emotion. Angst is what we dwell on, so it's natural to talk about it."

Eclair: "I know the new comedy god is surrealism, but it doesn't touch my heart. Women are more emotional and it's natural to talk about it."

Even Kate Robbins of Spitting Image is keen to bring sex into her show. The only impressionist on the fringe, she's been pulling in the Radio 2 crowd who come for Fergie and Queenie, and balk at the odd anal-sex reference.

A couple of TV series on Granada apart, Robbins has always been heard and not seen. But she is sick of voice-overs and reckoned the time was right to put on her first live show and get back to her cabaret roots. "These days every female I meet is a stand-up. 'Yeah, I'm doing stand- up down in Camden.' 'What were you doing last week?' 'Oh, I was working in the Stock Exchange.' "

The final of last night's So You Think You're Funny?, Edinburgh's annual comedy talent contest which has already produced Rhona Cameron, featured no less than four females out of the eight finalists, so perhaps Robbins has a point.

Two new comedians who have been attracting regular sell-outs in only their second Edinburgh run are Mel and Sue. Last year they felt they were over-hyped - "the critics thought, 'it's comedy and they've got jugs,' " says Sue. Being a female double-act, they have been compared somewhat predictably with French and Saunders. Unlike the rest of this year's succesful female acts, their made-for-TV show is sketch-based and non sex-oriented. Instead of targetting men, they dish it out to Emma Thompson and give a masterful impression of Liz Hurley trying to act her way out of a paper bag.

But they remain the exception on the fringe. Everywhere there are feisty women comedians. And feistiest of all is Prozac-popping, gin-swigging Jenny Eclair, self-styled "rotting whore of the fringe". Now that she's received her Perrier accolade, will she be devoting more time to her family? "Men," she sighs. "You can't live with them... and you can't just chop them into little pieces and boil the flesh off their bones 'cos that'd be cooking, and I don't do cooking."

n Jenny Eclair to 2 Sept: 0131-556 6550

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?