COMEDIAN Jen Brister, who was born and raised in London and lives in Brighton, comperes this new night at Brighton Dome. David O’Doherty, Reginald D Hunter and Sofie Hagen are also set to perform. Jen tells EDWIN GILSON how she balances raising children with touring, her views on the “Me Too” movement and why her sexuality is nobody’s business but her own

You moved to Brighton four years ago. Was that more for career or personal reasons?

It’s possibly the worst place to move for my career because I’m right at the bottom of the country. It was mainly for mental health and the fact I have kids. It’s just a nice place to live.

Have you changed the way you tour since having children?

I tend to just go where the work is. Since my Live At The Apollo show came out I’ve been in the fortunate position of being able to pick and choose what I do. I’ve got two young kids – if I don’t have to be away in Newcastle or Manchester for a few days per week, then I’ll choose not to do that.

Do your children ever join you on the road?

There’s no joy for them to be in a car with me for four and a half hours driving to a venue. If I got an opportunity to work abroad for a month, like at the Melbourne comedy festival, I’d do that before my kids start school. Next year is the last year we could do that. That would be ideal.

In your show Me, My Mother And I over a decade ago, you spoke about how much more life security your mother had when she was your age. Do you feel you have more security now?

Yes, I do. I have my house and I earn a lot more money. At that point in my life I couldn’t even conceive of... I wasn’t in a long-term relationship, I was living hand to mouth with stand-up, I was renting. I remember thinking, “oh my God I’m 31 and this is my life, it’s the most tragic thing”. I’d like to say it quickly picked up after that but I continued to live like that for another eight or nine years. It’s taken me quite a long time to secure myself as a comedian. There were other opportunities that didn’t take off, in radio for instance, and you go “oh, I’ve got to go back to the beginning again with stand-up”. I made a decision around 2008 just to focus on stand-up.

Does that newfound security change what you talk about in your comedy routine?

Yeah. I’ve spent a long time writing very autobiographical material and I still do that, but I’m now more interested in looking outwards, into society, rather than into my own brain. I hope that that will continue, but it’s still quite new for me to do that. As a comedian you’d have to be blind if you weren’t looking around you at the moment. It’s complete chaos.

How do you find new and refreshing ways to talk about that chaos, though?

With incredulity. The way I approach it is to say, “how absolutely bonkers is this?” rather than just say “Trump’s a d***”. We all know that. It’s difficult to lampoon a man who does that well on his own. Stuff I’m ranting about now is more about what’s happened since the “Me Too” movement and how the landscape has changed for women, if it has at all. I comment on things like period poverty. When I was writing about that, I couldn’t believe there were women who can’t afford sanitary products.

On “Me Too”, have you seen first-hand the kind of incidents that have emerged over the year on the comedy scene?

Yes, definitely. It’s not exclusive to performers, any woman has her own story wherever she works. It’s all about power. If you’re in a position higher up the chain you can exercise that power. If you see it, you can comment on it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Comedy is a status industry and you fall into line. It’s different for me, I’m a gay woman in my forties with a very big mouth. If a guy was stupid enough to try it on, he wouldn’t do it more than once. But this has started a dialogue between women. Women higher up the chain can say, “alright, who did that, what can we do about this guy?” That support didn’t exist before that.

Do you only hear about some of these incidents a long time after they happen?

I found out stuff I never knew, I had no idea what was happening to people I know. Men don’t behave like that with me, but there was plenty of stuff I found out afterwards that if I’d known about it, I would have said something.

You mentioned your sexuality earlier. Do you talk about it much on stage?

I don’t talk or not talk about it, it’s just part of who I am. If I’m talking about having two children, it’s difficult not to couch that in terms of the relationship I’m in. However, I’ve never lent on that. A lot of people say I should or shouldn’t mention it, but it’s got nothing to do with anyone. It’s entirely up to me. Some people don’t like me talking about it but on the other hand gay women always say I don’t talk about it enough. I’m not going to write 20 minutes about being gay, who cares, it’s boring? I think it’s quite obvious anyway – you’d be blind not to notice.

You were enrolled on the UK’s only stand-up comedy university course at that point. Can stand-up be taught?

I don’t know how I would have got on stage if I hadn’t done that course. It can give you the tools to have the confidence to stand up on stage in the first place. The only way you learn is to do it. You might do a show and absolutely nail it because it’s your friends and family watching, but then go into the wider world and it can be very, very different. There are comedians who are instinctive, and those people are the best.

Did it come instinctively to you?

It’s always felt instinctive to me. I can feel it, it’s just there.

Jen Brister, Live At Brighton Dome comedy night, June 16,