Jo Brand – It’s different for girls
Punk coming of age novel by Jo Brand
Jo Brand (one of the UK’s bestest comedians and national treasures) has written a hardcore book for teenage girls about growing up in a small seaside town in the 1970s when the punk scene was on the verge of exploding. Teenage kicks, seaside snogs and soggy chips…
Everyone in Britain knows who Jo Brand is. She’s listed as one of the 50 funniest acts in British Comedy. She loves sharpening her talons on soft-minded indie boys on ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’. She makes dear old Stephen Fry squirm about his non-practising homosexuality on QI. However, underneath all the ‘yeah, I’m a fat feminist, deal with it’ and cake jokes, she’s a really, really smart and funny woman, much more funny than she even appears to be – and it all comes out in this brilliant novel.
Jo Brand’s trademark is 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 1990s 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 is not LGBT and is in fact married with kids and everything. She has commented that “men are fantastic – as a concept”. She has also said satirically that she was reading in the newspapers that she was LGBT for so long, she started to believe it.
The thing is, like many desperate artists, Jo Brand grew up in a small seaside town in the 1970s. It was Hastings, in fact. And this wonderful book is about Rachel and Susan, two teenagers growing up in Hastings. Funny, that.
Anyone who’s grown up – or is growing up – in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do and parents breathing down your back will get to grips with the pains of loudmouthed pretty Susan (who dresses like a skinhead but doesn’t care what they believe in) and Rachel (who’s a bit sick of having such a pretty best friend, but she is a lot of fun, so whatever).
Rachel and Susan’s main aim in life is to see as many gigs as possible without their parents finding out, fall in love, have lots of sex till they can find someone to fall in love with, and convince everyone they’re three years older than they really are.
The book can be read by anyone. Jo Brand is such a brilliant writer that every line has a clever take on life wrapped up in a witticism or ballsy joke that manages to convey the utter nonsense of life, and those brilliant moments where things do appear to make some sort of sense after all. Even if you’re not a teenager, you’re not british, you’re not a girl and you’ve got no interest in the punk scene, you’ll love this book – and you’ll wonder why more people haven’t read it.
Well, they should. Because it really is that good.
“A laugh-a-page tale – highly readable and genuinely funny” – Alan Davies
“A wonderfully funny and inventive novel” – Stephen Fry
“There isn’t one dull passage. You couple open the book at random, throw a dart and find something funny and hard to forget” – A dirty right-wing newspaper whose name Mookychick isn’t even mentioning
See? Important people have said so – this book really is funny. Told you so!