Jo Caulfield in stereo

Comic's second radio commission this week

Radio 4 has commissioned a series of Jo Caulfield’s live storytelling show, The Speakeasy.

The order for four half-hour episodes comes just days after Caulfield was commissioned to make a pilot of another of her regular live shows, The Good, The Bad and The Unexpected, for BBC Radio Scotland.

The Speakeasy currently takes place every month at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, where the Radio 4 series will also be recorded, and features comedians, writers, cabaret acts and musicians.

Guests have yet to be confirmed but previous acts for the live shows, which only started in October, have included stand-ups Gareth Waugh, Keir McAllister, Ray Bradshaw and Gus Lymburn, magician-turned-psychologist Richard Wiseman, poet Elspeth Murray, ‘antifolk’ musician Lach and surreal cabaret performers The Creative Martyrs.

The series, which will be recorded in the summer and go out in a 6.30pm slot on Sundays, will draw from a talent pool beyond Edinburgh, where Caulfield has been based for the last two years.

‘I think of it more as long-form comedy than storytelling’ Caulfield says of the format. The performances ‘have to have a beginning, a journey and an end, there has to be a forward motion in them, unlike in stand-up where you can go off continually and not necessarily move forward.

‘We’re not interested in anybody’s pain though, it’s not that kind of storytelling. It’s got to be funny.’

Caulfield – who also hosts a regular Comedy Collective night at The Stand – said she was inspired to set up The Speakeasy after seeing similar shows in New York.

‘[Speakeasy and The Good, The Bad and The Unexpected] were things that I put together for fun. I do longer comic stories on tour that I can’t do so much in normal comedy clubs. Both nights developed organically on stage without any end product in mind.’

She resumes her UK tour next week, before rejoining Phill Jupitus, Simon Evans and Thom Tuck in the transfer of Edinburgh Fringe play Coalition to the Pleasance Theatre, London, next month.

The radio pilot of Good, The Bad and The Unexpected – which is also a podcast – will be recorded in March. Co-produced, like The Speakeasy, by Richard Melvin, it will feature Susan Calman and Gary Delaney as guests.

- by Jay Richardson

Published: 9 Jan 2013

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