Jo Caulfield: Role Model

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

Jo Caulfield is a doyenne of audience banter, instinctively putting everyone at ease so they feel relaxed enough to share their good humour, too.

Which is a brilliant, and much underrated, skill for a comedy club, though in a full-length solo show it can feel as if she's being a conduit for the humour of others, as much outlining her own comic vision.

The idea for this show came from an American friend who overcame her panic attacks by a two-pronged psychological approach. One was that on the onset of her fear, she would put herself in the shoes of a personal hero, and imagine what they would do in that situation. The second was to compile a list of all the anxieties gnawing away at her confidence, then tear it up, symbolically conquering her demons.

So, for the first half of the show, Caulfield considers the idea of role models. Hers was once Calamity Jane, and she still has a tomboyish streak to this day, as well as the comedy inspirations of Joan Rivers, Billy Connolly and her Scottish husband ­ whose bizarre opinions have a habit of finding their way into her act.

After wittily explaining this, she emailed 010 of her friends whom she asked to name their role models with, as they say, hilarious results. The suggestions of the audience tonight provide more grist for the mill, especially in the reasons given.

Then she moves onto a hilarious segment of the show based on extracts from the guidebook Scotland For Dummies, aimed at American readers. Their idiotic, naive, tips, are so funny in their ignorance, that they speak for themselves, with Caulfield coaxing a few extra laughs from her incredulity.

The second part of the show sees a compilation of pet peeves, some again provided by the audience when they waited in the queue.

But it's Caulfield's own list of things that make her angry and annoyed that's the clincher: a hugely impressive set of quickfire observational comedy, stripped of the bogus conversation elements of the genre and instead producing one funny line after another for a brilliant, relentless catalogue of solid gags.

It's here, at last, that Caulfield's comic talents get the best chance to shine, and they're dazzling. If only we'd seen such density of gags sooner, the show would have felt as substantial as it is entertaining.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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