Jo Caulfield Goes To Hell
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
Jo will be holding court at the microphone and offering her wicked words of wisdom on such subjects as international terrorism, late night poker, binge drinking, celebrity whores, why she thinks religion is ridiculous - and why it's not the children who suffer most during a divorce - it's the friends.
Jo Caulfield’s got little left to prove. She’s got an established radio series under he belt, a writing career and is a regular face on the sort of telly shows that need regular faces. Perhaps that’s why, in her disappointing sixth Edinburgh, she seems to be just treading water.
It’s not entirely her fault, the weekday atmosphere in this half-empty Assembly Rooms ballroom was as cold as a penguin’s chuff. Caulfield blamed it on a prim Radio 4 audience, unwilling to relax with her hard-edged material, though she didn’t do much to warm them up, either.
Her material and delivery lacked her usual gossipy charm, and came across as relentlessly mean-spirited and cynical. No fun, just bitterness, as she catalogues everyone and everything she’d like to send to hell.
She sneers at all the usual celebrity targets, from Heather McCartney to Vanessa Feltz via with mean-spirited barbs. Myleene Klass is derided as a bimbo, Nigella Lawson slagged off for eroticising cookery, just five years behind the press accused her of peddling ‘gastroporn’.
It’s not the only thing that feels familiar. What’s the point of low-alcohol beer? What’s the deal with those 72 virgins? Even her take on the Glasgow airport attack using the stereotype of a brawling Glaswegian seems dated, and that’s only just happened.
Talking of airports, she’s annoyed with British Airways for losing her luggage on the way from London, and reads out the stiff letter she’s written them. It contains one decent joke, but mostly seems grumpy – justifiably - rather than particularly funny.
A couple of routines do shine. She’s always good reacting to the list of suggestions she takes from her audiences as they queue. This time, it’s their suggestions for things to be damned. And a section on greetings cards that express genuine emotions, rather than the bland Hallmark sentiments, is well done. Though she doesn’t really need to mention you can buy them from her website twice, she’s better than that.
In fact, she’s better than this whole show, which falls way below her norm.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett