So I’ve seen Jen Brister perform twice. The first was in Liverpool and you can read more about that in this interview. The second was in Brighton where I missed my lift home because I didn’t want to miss any of her show. And then proceeded to annoy my brothers the whole way by trying to quote her Austrailian accent while we were stuck in traffic because we hadn’t left earlier.
You can’t really describe Jen’s comedy in a few words. She talks of everything from taking the piss out of herself to her relationships and all the hilarious bits inbetween. Also have a look at her Lady Ha Ha videos that she cowrites with Amelia Gildea as they will have you laughing your tights off and hiding behind a cushion with the cringyness of it at the same time. ‘This is show business, the business of show”. I talked to her about her show, being a female comedian and how she likes to chill out on a Saturday Morning.
So the routine question first, how did you get into comedy?
God I don’t know! I studied drama and we did a comedy module, so I did my first gig when I was 21 in front of my friends and family and everyone laughed.But then when I did open mic spots I just proceeded to die at every single one. I was deluded enough though to think I was actually good, and then it went from there really and snowballed. That’s not a very romantic answer is it!
I think a lot of comics fall into it. I think a lot of newer comics think that after two years they’ll be really good and on the telly. I knew it would take years, so I had no expectations.
What were people’s reactions to you doing comedy?
I didn’t really tell people, I just started doing it. I wasn’t like ‘Hello I’m a stand-up comic,’ I just plodded along and gradually started doing more and more gigs. My mum was really supportive. There’s a lot of comics going up to Edinburgh a lot earlier, I would never have dreamt of going up with my an hour show earlier in my career. I’m in awe of people who can do it.
Do you get nervous?
Yes! They’re contained nerves. It’s nervous energy but it makes you sharper and better at your job. I would worry if I didn’t have them. When you stand up in front of everyone it’s a real buzz.People always say to me that they couldn’t do my job, that they’d rather get their face chewed off by a rabid dog then do stand up.
But truthfully it’s about the only thing I can do. There’s a whole list of things I can’t do. I can’t draw, I’m rubbish at maths and science. I can’t sing, or do anything musical, but I can write and tell jokes .
That’s much better than going on Xfactor or something and thinking you can sing.
Yeah that level of delusion. If you’ve got a talent than I think stick to it.
Do you think you’ve had more trouble making it being a woman?
Well with open mics nights there can be as many women as men on the bill. No one’s paid so everyone’s just chugging along. On the regular circuit the gigs are run by promoters and they want to attract a certain audience, so there are always fewer women. And if you’re on that bill you have to make sure you’re better than the men on the bill if you want to be invited back.
It’s not impossible as a female comedian but it’s definitely harder. I don’t think promoters always exclude women on purpose, I just think because a lot of the promoters are men they don’t might not relate to my stand up or might not think what I say is funny. You just have to gravitate to the people who do.
I love your writing; your blog about how you hate camping, and the one about anger had me laughing!
That’s really just the story of my life. Being a grumpy twat. The blog gives me my base material for my shows. I tend to write a series of blogs to the write the stand up.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
They’re very much my own experiences. Some comedians can read a news story and make observational comments about it or from things that they see around them. Everything has to have happened to me. I’m the butt of the joke in my standup!
What would you do if you weren’t performing?
I have no idea. I can’t imagine doing a proper job. Whatever I did it would have to be freelance, I couldn’t work for someone else ever again. Maybe writing, I could give that a whirl.
Any crazy fans yet?
I have fans in that the people who come to see me like what I do, but no one crazy, there’s no one hanging out in front of my flat. Yet. People ask for photos but I find that bizarre!
How personal do you get in your shows, does your girlfriend mind you talking about her?
I’m never too personal. I use my girlfriend as a bench mark to compare my own behaviour. I never say anything really personal about her. I have boundaries abut what I say on stage and there are plenty of things I won’t talk about on stage.
It’s so funny how people react. Some people have seen me after a gig and just sat down with me and my friends. It’s very weird! I think on stage people feel like they’ve got to know you and so the normal rules of interaction don’t seem to apply.
What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you?
On a few occasions I MCd for Zoe Lyons when she ran a comedy night at the Vauxhall Tavern. On one occasion a woman in the audience had apparently taken ketimin and proceeded to walk up to the stage and brush what she thought were spiders off my feet.Another time in Liverpool a girl puked on the stage whilst I was performing.
I was at that gig! I remember that!
You were there?! I didn’t see it but everyone was laughing and I didn’t know why until I saw it. There’s so many things that have happened, I’ve had things thrown at me and a lot of other things have happened throughout the years but they are the two that stand out.
What do you do in your free time?
I don’t do a great deal as I don’t have that much free time. I like hanging out with my family, friends and my girlfriend. We sometimes take drives and go for walks because we’re practically middle aged. God, we sound really dull. I’m basically happiest when I’m with people I care about.
Apart from Camping.
Oh yeah fuck that. On a Saturday morning I want to be watching Saturday Kitchen with a bacon sandwich and a pot of coffee. I haven’t got any energy to do anything; the amount of adrenaline that pumps through my body on stage is my excitement. I don’t need to be doing anything else.
What’s next for this year?
I need to get Edinburgh out the way then I can worry about new projects! I think I’ll be filming a lot more and putting stuff up online. A lot more people will see it that way. But now I just need to get through the fringe.
Find out more about Jen on here website http://www.jenbrister.co.uk/
Twitter – @JenBrister