Edinburgh Review: Jo Caulfield

Jo Caulfield is an old-fashioned, class act which is driven by a natural ability for timing and interaction, writes Paul Fleckney.

jo_caulfield1There is something of the racy housewife about onstage Jo Caulfield, like a slightly more rock n roll version of the people who listen to her on Radio 4. She makes derogatory, unmaternal remarks about ugly children, she loves a drink, she despises the schmaltzy romance of new couples, she’s lazy, and she mimes being shagged by her husband while she washes the dishes.

It’s a subtle and very effective persona. This, and her natural comic timing, is what a Jo Caulfield show is all about. The rhythms and cadences of her delivery are old-fashioned but they drive the show – moreso than the material. She speaks about familiar, undemanding subjects such as the recession, drinking, ageing, marriage, supermarket check-outs – but they never feel tired, such is the quality of her delivery.

Much like Alun Cochrane, who plays a similarly wide-ranging and excellent show in the same venue as Caulfield, she has barely bothered to tie herself down to a theme (an apparent requisite of an Edinburgh comedy show), she’s just not that kind of comic.

The set pieces in Jo Caulfield Won’t Shut Up are of varying quality. In one she attempts to reconstruct a new society from scratch, such is the bankruptcy of today’s one, working along the front row of the audience to find out their vocation – and therefore if they are of any use. She gets lucky with a cracking run of teachers, plumbers, priests etc, and this format makes the most of her brilliant way with spontaneous chit-chat.

Her ’15 jokes a day’, which we get to rate, is hit and miss and her ideas for cocktails for men – complete with onstage bottles with mocked-up labels – feels quite lazy. Her material may not be groundbreaking but she can do a hell of a lot better than calling these cocktails “Sex With Your Wife’s Sister” or “Beer”. It is a limp end to an otherwise highly enjoyable show.
Four stars
Jo Caulfield Won’t Shut Up is on until August 30 (except 17, 24) at 8pm at the Stand III. Click here for tickets.

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