Jenni Eclair - not so grumpy

IT S Monday morning, I ve got a hangover from hell and Jenni Eclair is delivering quick-fire quips every five seconds down the end of the phone line. God, you sound rough! , she exclaims almost immediately on hearing my gravelly voice. I mumble something

IT'S Monday morning, I've got a hangover from hell and Jenni Eclair is delivering quick-fire quips every five seconds down the end of the phone line.

"God, you sound rough!", she exclaims almost immediately on hearing my gravelly voice.

I mumble something about it being my birthday on Saturday, and she's straight in with, "but that's no excuse for going on a two-day bender. What are you like?"

We're meant to be talking about Jenni's stand-up show at The Broadway theatre, Barking on Friday, April 24, but in the background I can hear the opening and closing of doors.


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"Sorry," she apologises. "I'm snooping. My 20-year-old daughter has boys somewhere in this house. And I will find them. I've got a snoop outfit, with a miner's hat, on and I will sniff them out."

The house in question is in Camberwell, south east London and Jenni adds: "I have an overblown loyalty to a crap area of London that doesn't deserve it.

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"But I do have a 176 bus stop directly outside my place, which takes me straight up The Strand and on to Oxford Circus. It's like having a double-decker taxi permanently on my doorstep."

Jenni clearly likes hanging out on buses: "I'm just nosey, it's a real problem. I'm always sticking my nose in and listening to other people's conversations on the bus. And then trying to give advice.

"However, 16-year-old black girls don't take advice well from 49-year-old white women!"

Jenni sprang to prominence in the 1990s, becoming the first female solo winner of the Edinburgh Festival's Perrier Comedy Award.

She also famously appeared on Comic Relief Does Fame Academy in 2005 and two years later was voted 39th in Channel 4's countdown of the greatest ever stand-up comedians.

The show in Barking is part of her Forgot To Get A Pension Tour, but Jenni says you can also add (and couldn't sell my house when it was worth more than it is now).

She explains: "It's basically one long cry for help, very advanced showing off. But I'm absolutely hilarious in it.

"Seriously, though, I'm proud to be a gigging girl and don't think female stand-ups get enough credit in what is such a male-dominated and sexist business."

Particularly known over recent years for her role in TV's Grumpy Old Women, Jenni wrote the award-winning Grumpy Old Women Live show which she starred in alongside Linda Robson and Dillie Keane throughout the UK, and which has since been re-cast in Australia and Iceland.

And she's writing a second show for a new tour, this time with Wendi Peters (Coronation Street's Cilla) and Suzie Blake, of The Victoria Wood Show, and also Corrie, fame.

"It's basically an over-40s female triple act," says Jenni.

"No one's got any vanity and if you've had botox you're not allowed in!"

But before that, Barking beckons and Jenni jokes: "I've never been to Barking, but I like the word and I'm happy to be performing in Barking.

"This tour is basically visiting some of the places that I didn't get to last time. I've got loads of tours left in me and the''ll have to drag me screaming and kicking from the stage one day."

And with that she's off, to conclude that snooping, and adding before she hangs up, "hope you feel better love, make sure you eat something".

Tickets for Jenni Eclair at The Broadway theatre on Friday, April 24 are on sale now, �17.50 and �15.50. Go to www.thebroadwaybarking.com to book online. The show starts at 8pm.

- MATT TROLLOPE

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