Stand-up comedy can be a tough business, and it’s a male-dominated preserve.
However, the likes of Bridget Christie, Claudia O’Doherty and Dana Alexander are attempting to redress the balance with their turns at the Edinburgh Festival.
Sue Perkins will be spotlighting their talents, as well as chatting to Lucy Porter, Jo Caulfield, Andi Osho and Shappi Khorsandi.
They all reveal how and why they got into comedy, along with one of British showbusiness’s most reliable funny women, Jo Brand.
She made her TV debut on Friday Live in 1986, and admits it was a baptism of fire.
“It was terrifying! It was the most surreal experience,” she recalls. “I was in a dressing room with The Pogues on one side and Mark Thomas on the other side. The Pogues had a fight while I was trying to talk to the producer, and you could just hear chairs smashing on heads and stuff like that, and from the other side Mark Thomas was negotiating about what language he could use for the show.”
It didn’t help when one of the audience decided to have a go, which almost derailed her set.
“The worst thing for me on the whole show was when someone heckled me half way through the performance, and because it was live I was like a rabbit in the headlights and I just didn’t know what to do.”
If she could go back in time and give herself a piece of advice, what would it be?
“I would say: ‘Don’t be naïve,’ probably to my younger self, because in the very early days when things were starting to take off a bit I listened to advice from other people or did interviews where I thought I absolutely had to do what I was told. I don’t mean in the sense that I kind of changed into a hideous showbiz monster that won’t do anything, but I let myself be persuaded to do things that I wish I hadn’t done in some ways.
“My major aim always is, I think - [that] you can do political jokes, or you could do any sort of joke you want and preach to people - but the absolute rule is it’s got to be funny,” she explains.