Comedian Jen Brister doesn’t own a single living thing

Jen Brister isn’t Jen Christer, Jan Bristow, Jean Britzen, Joan Brasten or Jane Bester. All names I have been referred to one way or another over the years. My favourite was when I ordered 2000 Edinburgh flyers for my show that read, ‘Ben Brister.’  

You studied stand-up comedy in the mid-nineties. Are there things a course can’t teach about performing comedy?

A course can teach you the mechanics and you might learn a few useful tricks on a course. It’s also great to try stuff out in a supportive environment, but the best and only way you really learn is getting up on stage in front of a paying crowd. I find audiences are usually pretty vocal if they like what you’re doing or if they hate it. There’s nothing like someone chucking an empty can of beer at you whilst shouting, “You’re crap mate!” to make you rethink your material.

Aside from stand up, you also do some comedy writing. What jokes have you written for others that you wouldn’t perform yourself?

I wouldn’t perform any sketches I wrote pre 2007 because they were pretty terrible. I can safely say that because I’m pretty sure anyone I wrote for at that time is probably stacking shelves now.

You’ve been touring your show Now & Then of late, where you compare your current life with the dreams and aspirations you had as a child. What was a dream you didn’t achieve?

I thought I’d have the kind of success that meant I would have lots of stuff – you know, a car, a house, a TV…a chair…. I definitely thought I’d have kids – maybe two kids with sepia skin and too much hair on their backs. I don’t own a single living thing, not even a pot plant. So, I’m thinking that to help me grow as a human being I should get a pet, care for it, nurture it, watch it die…I mean grow…and once it’s grown watch it die… I mean continue to nurture it… I keep confusing pets with basil plants. Maybe I should just leave that well alone.

On the other hand, what is something you’ve achieved that you didn’t ever dream of doing?

I never dreamed I would have the chance to perform live and that people would pay to see me talk at them for an hour. So, if you’re reading this and you haven’t got a ticket for my show then you are literally stamping on my dream. Think about it.

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