Jo Brand: Stand-up and in 'Mental', Edinburgh Festival
Play's the thing for a slick but jaded Brand
Friday 15 August 2003
At the Book Festival this week Alexei Sayle complained that today's comedians were too slick for him, too polished. Now even Jo Brand is polished, it seems, thanks to peddling what is ostensibly the same act for years.
If you asked audiences what words they would associate with her act, you would get the following responses: "cake, fat, women's bits". This holy trinity is still the mainstay of Brand's stage act, even after a long break from the circuit and giving birth to two children. All credit, perhaps, that her act is not littered with nappies and potties, although potty humour is still prevalent.
Brand made a good impression at the launch of the Assembly Rooms this year but under the spotlight of her own shows the languid ambivalence of the comedy she tosses out rankles. This attitude is manifest when Brand flicks her wrist in a casual "whatever" pose to punctuate her routines.
At the same launch, Brand warned us that her acting skills were not up to much: "Don't judge me on my acting, judge me on my dress or something.'' If this health warning was published on the tickets, audiences would be a lot more patient with Mental, the bio-play written with her fellow former psychiatric nurse and colleague, now performer, Helen Griffen (who is excellent).
The first few scenes (which are punctuated with needless fade-outs) feel like the pair recorded their lines in separate rooms. However, there are some well-paced, well-thought out set pieces. Of particular note is Winston, a former psychiatric patient who has an innovative approach to his new job as a postman and who - as a patient - once had a cunning plan to get free chips. What a contrast to the content of Brand's stand-up of jaded jokes with no new twist.
It is difficult to imagine the comedy scene without Jo Brand because she is part of the furniture, if a little worn. But fatigue has set in with her act and her audiences.
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
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West