Brenda Monk is Famous follows Brenda's stand up comedy career as her success increases and she becomes a household name. It is the sequel to Katy Brand's first novel, Brenda Monk is Funny, which saw Brenda try stand up for the first time and then detailed her first year as a gigging circuit comedian. Now Brenda is being booked for TV panel shows, going on tour, playing arenas, making good money for the first time and hanging out with fellow celebrities. But the downside is getting slagged off in national newspapers, receiving abuse on Twitter and other social media, new 'friends' with agendas of their own, and losing old relationships to a career which threatens to take over every corner of her life. Brenda will attempt to adjust to this new profile and keep true to her character and the kind of comedy she wants to write and perform, but in the face of the corrupting pressure of fame, she may not always be successful. Brenda Monk is Famous will be a behind the scenes look what it's like to be a well known comedian, with a sharp examination of modern celebrity in all its slippery guises.
It was a weak look, that was the problem. Brenda sat in front of the mirror and screwed up her face, making crows feet in the outer corners of her eyes and puckering the skin around her lips. The softly falling waves of hair that framed her face so prettily had been a mistake, as was the smokey eye she had been talked into and the glossy, sticky lips that made her feel like a sex doll. It all said 'only good for one thing', and that thing was definitely not 'being funny on national television'. Some women could pull this look off and still come out with their best hits. Brenda couldn't. Brenda needed to look tougher than this if she was going to do her job properly. She stood up to get a better sense of the whole package. Planting herself in front of the patch of wall that, in a better dressing room, would have been a window over looking the Thames, she took in her reflection from head to toe. Black jacket - safe, slimming. Black T-shirt with an open pair of lips picked out in sequins - what the fuck had she been thinking? Jeans - whatever. Then the Surrey bride hair and the MTV make up - standard 'please don't abuse me when I'm trying to be sexy for you' TV girl fare.
'It's too late to get rid of it now,' said Brenda to herself, and by way of confirmation there was a knock at the door. When Brenda didn't answer immediately, she heard the code being punched in to the keypad and watched the handle twist gingerly. The door opened a little, and a timid looking face appeared around it. 'Oh, sorry, Brenda - I didn't realise you were in here,' the runner said in her tiny, tiny voice.
'Can I invite you down to set now? We'd like to get you miked up.'
'Can I just do a quick wee?'
'Of course - I'll wait outside.'
The timid face retreated, the door clicked, and Brenda turned back to mirror. She had a sense of foreboding about this evening's record - her insides were jangling. This was a panel show with a reputation for not much wanting women around, whatever they said in public, and the tight smiles and nervous eyes were all around her. She was not a household name, National Treasure-hood was some decades off yet, and there was no natural warmth for her from a viewing audience familiar with her face and style. The producers had been strong-armed into having her on by her agent, and there was the sense that she would probably fuck it up and they would have to cover it in the edit - she had deduced this from the continual visits to her dressing room by various producers and writers, offering to help her with some material 'just to fall back on, just in case.' None of this was terribly conducive to creating great comedy. And now the curls made her look weak, eager to please, ready to tow the line - had she sub-consciously agreed to this look in the make-up chair in order not to look in any way subversive? The knock came again and the voice through the door, less tiny now.
'How are we doing, Brenda?'
Brenda walked to the sink, turned on the cold tap and stuck her head under it as far as she could. She scooped a handful of water over the back of her hair, flattening it instantly. She wiped the back of her hand across her glossed lips. She shook her head violently, throwing droplets of water around the room, and then ran her fingers back through it. It looked an absolute state. It felt much better.
She opened the door and smiled confidently at the runner, who startled a little and then remembered herself and smiled back.
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