Heard the one about women and comedy?

Laura Solon was celebrating yesterday after scooping the Perrier Award as best comic act at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, only the second woman to do so. Jonathan Brown and Lucy Phillips eulogise the comedienne through the years
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Marie Lloyd

High Victorian music star, real name Matilda Wood, known as 'Our Marie' to her many admirers. Specialised in bawdy songs delivered with a knowing wink and the catchphrase: "I'm one of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit."

Best song: "My old man said: 'Follow the van. Don't dilly-dally on the way.' But I dillied and dallied, dallied and dillied. Lost the van and don't know where to roam."

Nellie Wallace

Popular music hall singer and comedienne. Also starred in a number of films including 'Boys Will Be Girls'. She died in 1948.

Best song: "Let's have a tiddley at the milk bar. Let's make a night of it tonight. Let's have a tiddley at the milk bar. Let's paint the town a lover-ly white"

Joyce Grenfell

Surprisingly dark comedienne best remembered for her songs and monologues. Also starred in 'St Trinian's' alongside George Cole. Died in 1979.

Best song: "I had three brothers - Harold Robert and James - all of them tall and handsome, all of them good at games. And I was allowed to field for them, to bowl to them, to score: I was allowed to slave for them for ever and evermore.

Pam Ayres

Former civil servant who became an unlikely national comic star after winning the 1975 series of the talent show 'Opportunity Knocks'.

Best poem: "Oh I wish I'd looked after me teeth, and spotted the perils beneath. All the toffees I chewed and the sweet sticky food. I wish I'd looked after me teeth."

Pamela Stephenson

Took the part turned down by Victoria Wood in 'Not The Nine O'Clock News' - the show which bridged the Oxbridge madcap of Monty Python and the arrival of alternative comedy. She married Billy Connolly and has now become a psychologist.

Most memorable line: "American Express Sir, that will do nicely. And would you like to put your head between my tits and go blubble, blubble, blubble?"

Victoria Wood

A Bafta Award-winning writer, actress and singer songwriter. Wood first found fame in 1980 alongside Julie Walters. Her television sitcom 'Dinner Ladies' is among the most popular BBC successes in recent years.

Memorable line: "For years I was an undiagnosed anorexic, suffering from a little-known variant of the disease, where, freakishly, the appetite turns in on itself and demands more and more food, forcing the sufferer to gain several stones in weight and wear men's V-necked pullovers."

Dawn French

Teamed up with Jennifer Saunders at the Central London School of Speech and Drama. Success in 'The Comic Strip', 'French and Saunders', 'Murder Most Horrid' and 'The Vicar of Dibley' have granted her something approaching national treasure status.

Memorable line: [As the Vicar of Dibley to startled parishioner] "You were expecting a bloke. Beard, bible, bad breath?And instead you got a babe with a bob cut and a magnificent bosom."

Jennifer Saunders

Her early career mirrored that of her comic partner Dawn French until she teamed up with Joanna Lumley and June Whitfield in 1992 as the Champagne-swilling, chain-smoking Edina. It recently returned for a fifth series.

Best Ab Fab moment: "Local anaesthetic? Local anaesthetic? What is this - Eastern Europe? I want total sensory deprivation and I want it now."

Jo Brand

A former psychiatric nurse, Brand first performed a stand-up routine using the name The Sea Monster in 1987. Her relentlessly deadpan delivery centres on jokes about her weight and the failings of men. They have earned her a considerable mainstream following although she is famously loathed by 'The Sun's' television critic Garry Bushell.

Typical observation: "How do you know if it's time to wash the dishes and clean your house? Look inside your pants. If you find a penis in there, it's not time."

Joan Rivers

Appeared on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' in the 1960s and in the cult movie 'The Swimmer' with Burt Lancaster. The Brooklyn-born comedienne transferred successfully across the Atlantic in the 1980s.

Best line: "You have to be careful when you date older men. They don't tell you the truth. A friend of mine dated an older man who never told her that he was wearing a hearing aid. She stuck her tongue in his ear and was electrocuted."

Caroline Aherne

Mancunian comedienne appeared in 'The Fast Show' and then as the sweet and disarmingly candid elderly talk show host Mrs Merton. Starred in groundbreaking comedy 'The Royle Family'.

Best line: [As Merton to Debbie McGee] "So, what attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?"

Meera Syal

Wolverhampton-born writer and actress, and pioneer of British-Asian comedy. Perhaps best known for her roles in 'Goodness Gracious Me' and 'The Kumars at No 42'. Her novel 'Life Isn't all Ha Ha Ha Hee Hee Hee' was recently televised.

On Asian comedy: "Ours is like Jewish humour with a sun tan."

Jenny Eclair

Became first woman to win the Perrier Award in her own right with 1995 show 'Prozac and Tantrums'. Her first novel 'Camberwell Beauty' was a collection of short stories.

Best joke: "A man goes to the doctor and is told there's good news and bad news. Doctor says: 'The bad news is you're going to die.' Patient asks for the good news; doctor looks over his shoulder and says: 'See that nurse over there? I'm sleeping with her'."

Catherine Tate

A former Royal Shakespeare Company actress, Tate began her comedy career in stand-up. Her eponymous television show has been the cult hit of the summer especially the teenage catch phrase 'Does my face look bothered?'

Typical observation: "I love astrologer Jonathan Cainer. I ring his phone line twice a week and he's always spot on with me and three million other Taureans. But I know it's my soul he is looking into."

Donna McPhail

Nominated for 1993 Perrier Award, she was the darling of the Edinburgh Festival in the 1990s.

Best put-down to male hecklers: "What do you use for contraception? Your personality?"

Shazia Mirza

British Muslim comedienne who has risen to prominence on the back of challenging audience's preconceptions of women and Islam.

Best joke: [To an American audience shortly after September 11] "My name's Shazia Mirza. At least, that's what it says on my pilot's licence."

Lucy Porter

Has become something of an Edinburgh stalwart in recent years. Her chatty, breezy style conceals a hard-hitting line in put-downs and observations.

Best line: "My parents had a typical Catholic wedding. My father was a repressed homosexual and my mother was sedated."

Sarah Kendall

An Australian Perrier nominee, she missed out in the 2004 Perrier to the 'Jackson's Way' show with Will Adamsdale.

Best gag: "50 Cent (or as he's called over here, 'Approximately 29p') boasts that he has been shot nine times. If I had been shot nine times, I would start to wonder if I was being just a little irritating."

Susan Murray

Dubbed the female Roy Chubby Brown for her scatological live act. Arthur Smith memorably described her as having the 'mentality of a 14-year old boy ... very admirable in a young lady'.

Typical gag: "My parents are from Glasgow which means that they are incredibly hard. But I was never smacked as a child. Well, maybe one or two grams just to get me to sleep at night."

Laura Solon

Her 'Kopfrapers Syndrome' won this year's Perrier Award, making her only the second woman in her own right to do so. The act has eight characters including 'The Festival Bookworm' and 'Borgesia the Polish Storyteller With a Radical Take on 'Aesop's Fables''.

Best joke: "People say you are what you eat. In which case, at some point Wendy ate a speccy Welsh Nazi."

Or, on the town of Rotherham: "You visit for the night-life but you live there for the glamour.''

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