Always Be Comedy: The Tommyfield pub, Kennington, London, 2018
Jen Brister: Meaningless: Monkey Barrel Comedy Club, Edinburgh, 2018
The Big Funny Fest: The Old Deer Park, Richmond, 2019
Always Be Comedy: The Tommyfield pub, Kennington, London, 2019
Jen Brister: Under Privilege: Monkey Barrel Comedy Club, Edinburgh, 2019
I must be honest and say that I had not originally booked to see Jen Brister’s show Meaningless at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2018. I had already seen her Edinburgh preview which I had thoroughly enjoyed at Always Be Comedy in London in June 2018. However, the Fringe show I had originally booked to see was sold out and I had an hour to fill before my next show. I walked into the Monkey Barrel Comedy Club and booked a ticket. From the very start of Meaningless – a show about family life, she performed with such enthusiasm and talent emanating a power from the stage that was controlled and tempered, the audience immediately warmed to her. She displayed excessive levels of anger for comic effect but was also extremely charming, compelling, mocking and very genial. Early in the set, the audience were introduced to her Spanish mum who was acted out with such perfect comic precision throughout the hour that it brought the house down. Meaningless is an hour of angst about overstating frustrations delivered from a comedian who is at the top of her game.
I saw her again compering the third show of the day at The Big Funny Fest at Richmond and then performing her new full work-in-progress Edinburgh Fringe show at Always Be Comedy in London in June 2019. The tiring and depleted crowd at Richmond were thoroughly engaged with her lively sets whilst introducing the main acts and the preview show consistently entertained the crowd with everyday things that wound her up. The ace card was that she perfectly animated her stories with brilliantly observed act-outs and characters told with truth, humour and honesty.
In August 2019, I watched Brister perform her new show Under Privilege at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2019 based on her experiences of motherhood to twin boys and attempting to bring them up, along with her girlfriend. The characters and situations that she created were uniquely accurate with razor-sharp timing and humour. She fearlessly commentated on middle-class white people and by extension, her life and her family and identified ways in which most of the audience profited from innate opportunity.
Brister is a hysterically funny woman who is a joy to watch and is highly recommended.