Jo Brand's week

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The Independent Online
I'm up in Edinburgh for a few days at the Festival. I'm glad to report it's still the same sweaty, drunken, competitive, paranoid, uncontrolled mess for most comics that it always was. This week is completely soaked with Perrier award madness, with the six contenders' hearts beginning to beat faster as their own little Armageddon approaches. It's a difficult time for them because everyone talks so much bullshit to you about it. When I was nominated some years ago, many people told me I had it in the bag from the January of that year, before I'd even written enough jokes. As the witching hour approached on the Saturday night l found myself doing a radio show, and asked someone to phone me and put me out of my misery as soon as the result was announced at midnight. Midnight came and went and eventually a fax plopped into the studio half an hour later saying that Steve Coogan and John Thomson had won. You can be damn sure the bastards would have phoned me if I'd won. The five of us, feted for three short days and all having had our photos taken clutching the prize to save the press time, were dropped like stones. Still, one consolation. Six months later, nobody could remember who'd won it.

Many people in this country are gullible and not very imaginative, which may explain why telephone joke lines have become so popular. With these joke lines, you give someone a number and when they phone up they hear a very funny sound scenario, which means you don't have to think it up yourself. Unfortunately though, some of these joke lines have fooled people into thinking they are the genuine article. Hence a woman collapsed after hearing what she thought was a man swerving off the road and crashing, and some bloke was persuaded to believe his missus was having an affair. The law states that these lines must say they are only joke lines, but of course many people hang up before they get to that bit.

I think it's really sad that we've got to the point where we can't even be bothered to do our own wind-ups. Is there eventually going to be a service for every spontaneous facet of human life? As kids, my brothers and I had great fun playing jokes on people on the phone. We once phoned up a Mr Bastard in the phone book and asked for someone called Dave. When the man on the other end said, "There's no one here called Dave," we chorused, "Must be some other bastard, then" and hung up. Very childish, I admit, but we did think it up on our own.

My agent got a very 'polite' call from L!VE TV this week asking whether I would mind my name being used in an advertisement promoting their channel. The gist of the ad was a quiz using serious questions with very funny misplaced answers relating to the previous question, for example: "Whose ball skills were worth pounds 15m?" Answer: "Pamela Anderson". The final question was: "Who is the most famous dog on TV?" Answer: "Jo Brand." Oh hilarity of hilarities. Still, it sums up the sophistication of a group of middle- aged, mediocre males, whose development seems to have been halted round about the age of seven. I'd like to add a few more Ms to Janet Street- Porter's competent assessment of the people in jobs with companies like L!VE TV: moronic, masturbatory and more putrid than a sackful of old sprouts. I did actually give my permission, because I hope a lot of people will be put off by it, and as for those three that aren't, they can join the other two L!VE TV viewers.

So I'm a dog, but poor old Tony Blair is the devil himself. Not only that, but the creators of this sophisticated campaign have been rewarded with a peerage. Apparently the outraged Labour reaction to John Major's sanctioning of the work of these herberts has elicited the words, "This is a disgusting slur", from the Saatchi firm. Oh dear, I think a bit of pot and kettle going on here. Of course, the Labour party couldn't have used the demon eyes on John Redwood or Michael Portillo, because no one would have noticed the difference.

The poor old 'Mail On Sunday' is trying to track down my dad. They rather sneakily phoned my mum without saying who they were, but she had the nous, when asked where my father could be contacted, to ask who was calling. The Mail On Sunday has heard my dad doesn't like my act and, not content with having done a demolition job on me themselves, seem to like the idea of him joining the fray. It has to be said that certain bits of my act are not to his taste, but fortunately for me and sadly for the MOS my dad - unlike some people in this country who will sell their nearest and dearest down the river - is loyal and not malicious. So yah, boo, sucks to that particular Tory rag.

Britons are under more stress at work. They work longer hours for less pay and are much more knackered than they used to be, says a recent study. I would have thought that it was easy to tell that just by looking at people on the street. Everyone looks completely shattered and in need of a good night's sleep. This is because the people who have actually got jobs are so desperate to hold on to them that they work longer hours, cover for workmates who are sick and generally let themselves be treated like dirt.

The Tories, sadly, have clearly done a good PR job on how appalling the unions are: in the study, only 2 per cent of those under 25 thought the union was worth consulting about difficulties at work. More fool them.

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