For comedians, the Edinburgh fringe is a big deal – a month-long opportunity to show off a year’s hard work and build an audience.

But last year it was all nearly too much for Jo Burke.

The Eltham-raised funny woman took a back-breaking two shows north of the border and it is that experience which inspired her new stand-up show iScream, which previews at the Leicester Square Theatre on April 3.

Despite both of last summer’s shows garnering four-star reviews, Jo said it took her months to get over because of the schedule of promoting, performing and undertaking technical duties.

“I was really absolutely mind-bendingly mentally and physically scarred by it,” she said.

“I decided there and then that I either stop doing it all together or make my life simpler for myself.

“I just decided that the next show I did – even though I usually did characters and sketch stuff – that I would just do it as me.

“It is a huge challenge because I have never done an hour of me. I have done five or ten minute slots when I first started out, which was five years ago, but since then I have always done characters or sketches.

“It is quite a challenge and a departure but I have enjoyed the process a lot more, which has surprised me.”

Being Goldsmiths graduate Jo’s first personal stand-up show has meant she has had to work out what type of comedian she is.

She said: “I have got lots of friends who are great at puns and one liners, and I’m not that. I’m more of a storyteller.”

Luckily for Jo, her life has thrown up plenty of material and the bonus is that much of it has been uptapped.

“Because it is my first personal show, I have a lot I can talk about. I found the whole process much, much easier – and it turns out my life is hilarious anyway so I didn’t have to embellish very much for it to be a good show. Most of it is true.”

While she has been busy in the world of comedy – she has been a finalist at So You Think That’s Funny?, a semi-finalist in So You Think You’re Funny and a semi-finalist in hte Golden Jester Awards – Jo still dreams of making writing and performing a full time job.

She said: “Anyone that works in comedy, it is just hard graft unless you are lucky enough to have been on TV in some way shape or form.

“Unfortunately, because people are so TV centric and won’t take a chance on people they don’t feel they know from television, it is really hard to get bums on seats when you’re not on that medium.

“As with all these things, there is a clique and it is hard to break into these things.

“You see the same faces again and again and again. All those people are great but it is very rare you get one new face, let alone a panel show or comedy show that is full of new people.

“There is so much great stuff going on if only people would step outside of their homes and go and see live stuff.

“People are always moaning about the shit that’s on television but it’s getting them to have the faith and spend some money and go out and have a nice evening and see some new stuff.”

See Jo Burke’s iScream at Leicester Square Theatre on Friday, April 3. Go to or find out where else she’s playing at