James Rampton on comedy

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The Independent Online
The sign that Jo Brand (below) has truly made it is that she is only going up to Edinburgh for two charity shows this year. Like Lee Evans or Mark Thomas, she has reached that stage in her career when she no longer needs the toil of a three-week run at a Fringe venue in order to bolster her profile. Her Channel 4 television show - Jo Brand Through the Cakehole - and various other outlets (including a weekly column in this newspaper) do quite enough of that already, thank you.

Despite all the other ventures, however, she remains first and foremost a live performer - and one of the highest order at that. Some critics have accused her of being a two-trick pony (food and men), but that takes no account of the rapport she builds with her loyal audience. Crowd control takes on a whole new meaning at a Jo Brand show. Her timing would do a quartz watch proud. "They say that inside every fat person there's a thin person waiting to get out," - pause for maximum effect - "that's because we've just eaten him." She can go on in the same vein for hours. "I went on the Pill aged 16 and put on four stone," she recalls. "That proved to be a very effective contraceptive." With Jo Brand, fat is a funny issue

`The Jo Brand Show' is at the Comedy Store, London SW1 (0171-344 4444) Mon 12 and 19 Aug; the Music Hall at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh (0131- 226 2428) Wed 21 Aug, and the Playhouse, Edinburgh (0131-557 2590) on Sat 24 Aug

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