- May 3, 1957
- Hastings, East Sussex, England, UK
Bio: Jo Brand (born Josephine Grace Brand 3 May 1957, Hastings, East Sussex) is an English comedienne.
Brand's mother was a social worker, and Brand herself worked as a psychiatric nurse at the South London Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital until the mid-1980s. She was persuaded by agent Malcolm Hardee to begin a career in stand-up comedy, where she acquired the… More Bio: Jo Brand (born Josephine Grace Brand 3 May 1957, Hastings, East Sussex) is an English comedienne.
Brand's mother was a social worker, and Brand herself worked as a psychiatric nurse at the South London Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital until the mid-1980s. She was persuaded by agent Malcolm Hardee to begin a career in stand-up comedy, where she acquired the stage name, "The Sea Monster". She was central to the British alternative comedy movement, working London alternative comedy clubs, and appearing initially on the Saturday Live television show.
In 1993, she was a resident panellist, along with Tony Hawks, on semi-successful BBC monologue show The Brain Drain. Her transition into the mainstream was then confirmed when she obtained her own series on Channel 4, Jo Brand Through the Cakehole, co-written with comedy writer Jim Miller, who was already her main stand-up writer.
Her early style involved her delivering jokes in a bored monotone, one line at a time, with pauses in between. With her Doc Marten boots, and her large size and short hair, her image (and comedic material) for most of the 1980s and '90s was inspired at least in part by radicalised feminism. But most of the apparently feminist material was in the set-up of the jokes, and was punctured by the punchline. Also, despite rumours to the contrary she turned out not to be a lesbian. She has commented that "men are fantastic - as a concept". She has also said that she was reading in the newspapers that she was a lesbian for so long, she started to believe it. She was for a while romantically involved with Malcolm Hardee, who had initially persuaded her to become a comic. In other sectors, she has also tried her hand at straight acting and has written novels.
More recently her humour has softened and she has been a guest on such television shows as Have I Got News For You and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, and has become a semi-regular panellist on QI. She has had several solo television series, and presented shows such as Jo Brand's Commercial Breakdown. She also appeared on Star Spell, a spin off from Hard Spell, during 2004, and has acted on Absolutely Fabulous. As a fan of Countdown, she achieved an ambition when she was asked to appear in the show's Dictionary Corner as the celebrity guest. She later became a friend of the host, Richard Whiteley, and after his death in 2005 attended his memorial service at York Minster. She appeared again on Countdown in "Dictionary Corner" in February 2007.
She also took part, against her better judgement, in the first celebrity version of Comic Relief does Fame Academy. In 2007, Brand appeared as a celebrity contestant on Comic Relief Does The Apprentice, again to raise money for Comic Relief. She also narrated Laughter & Tears: The Les Dawson Story for BBC Radio 2, a warm documentary tribute to Les Dawson who was one of Britan's best-loved comediens. The programme, made by independent company Made In Manchester Productions was broadcast on 2 October 2007.
In 2003, she was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2004, Brand appeared in a special episode of What Not to Wear, where fashion gurus Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine gave her a makeover. On Saturday 25 March 2006, Jo appeared on Parkinson with Daniel Day-Lewis and Jane Fonda. Brand is known to be a big fan of Crystal Palace Football Club, and has sponsored the matchball for games in the past.
Jo Brand also delivered a guest lecture on the subject of Psychiatric Nursing for the University of Derby Psychology Society in 1997 in return for a donation to Derby Rape Crisis, a chocolate cake and a couple of pints at the local (the two final offerings being gifts from the students rather than riders). This lecture is said to be highly ironic.
Brand appeared on the 25 March 2007 episode of Play It Again where she was required to learn how to play the organ in just four months. This was in preparation to perform Bach's Toccata in D Minor for an audience of 8,000 people at the Royal Albert Hall on the largest pipe organ in the British Isles with 9,999 pipes. In order to practise her performance, she played at a church service, a wedding, and accompanies dancers at Blackpool Tower. Her only other experience with a musical instrument was when Brand had previously taken piano lessons at school and had a bad experience with the violin.
Between 1988 and 1996, Jo lived with her co-writer and boyfriend James Macabre (AKA Jim Miller) in the Elephant and Castle area of London. Their home was a regular late night venue for after-hours drink and drug-fuelled Scrabble and Black-Mariah sessions to which Mark Lamarr, Jeff Green and Alan Davies ventured after the London Comedy Circuit closed down for the night. Jo married Bernie Bourke in 1996 and they have two young daughters, Maisie and Eliza.
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