Jenny Eclair will be touring with her new stand-up show, Eclairious this year
While some hit their 50s and think about winding down, Jenny Eclair seems to be going in the opposite direction. It’s not bloody-minded contrariness that has her laughing at the notion of retirement – it’s financial necessity.
“I don’t know how anyone can afford to retire,” explains Jenny. “Plus the people I know that can and have are a bit mental and do nothing but wash their cars and sweep leaves from the drives. I have no interest in either. I attempted gardening last weekend and after 20 minutes I was so bored I wanted to throw myself off the roof.”
There’s also, of course, the fact that 50 isn’t old. “It’s the new middle-aged,” says Jenny. “I think the dividing line is those who embrace technology, who get on with iPhones and iPads and things, and those who reject them.”
As a regular “Tweeter” - @jennyeclair - Jenny is clearly in the former group. “Oh god yes, I embrace,” she declares, an attitude some of her Twitter audience would do well to take. Well, former Twitter audience: the day we speak, a couple of people have unfollowed Jenny because she used some popular and commonly heard Anglo Saxon words.
“What did they expect?” she laughs. “It’s been well-publicised that I have ‘adult content’ in my material. I’m not 12. I like swearing. Those who don’t like fruity language shouldn’t follow.”
In more positive Twitter news, it was one of Jenny’s 88,000+ followers who suggested the name of her latest tour, Eclairious. (“Fortunately it’s a friend of a friend who’s given me total permission to use it.”) The tour starts in September, but what it’s about remains to be seen.
“It’s ‘in the process,’” explains Jenny, “stand up can take a matter of minutes to months to write. It’s trying to find something that’s funny enough to say in front of paying punters.” She laughs at the suggestion that that makes it sound so simple. “It’s a miserable thing to write! But I still really like stand-up.”
Jenny also clearly likes writing, as she has another book, Life, Death and Vanilla Slices, published in July. “It’s my third novel. It’s about guilt and going home, it’s about something that happened a long time ago, about finding your roots, a parallel story of a mother and a daughter. I can’t say too much but one of the narrators is in a coma.”
It’s a very good read and, while funny and real, still some distance away from the fire and frustration that has fuelled Jenny’s stand-up career and, of course, the Grumpy Old Women series. It’s not, however, a sign that Jenny is mellowing, although she suspects it may be a sign of the times.
“The ‘Grumpys’ were great. Because of that TV series, we managed to write a show that travelled the world. There was an Icelandic version! Finnish! Women laugh at the same things across the world.
“But in a recession, the grump thing doesn’t sit so easily. People are in their rights to say ‘you’re complaining about something petty and my husband’s lost his job.’ We have bigger things to worry about. But stand up is still in vogue. I just try to keep the tickets down to around £15 and hope that it’s enough value for money.”
‘Life, Death and Vanilla Slices by Jenny Eclair is published by Sphere on 5th July. Buy this book at a discount from Saga Bookshop, tickets for Jenny’s new stand-up tour ‘Eclairious’ are available to buy now: www.jennyeclair.com’