Jo Caulfield: Who Are You?

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

By now, Jo Caulfield has established herself as a reliable Fringe name: a safe pair of hands who gets the job done. Fans will know exactly what to expect, and she delivers, on that promise, even if there’s little in the way of surprises.

This, then, is more of her world-weary shtick, delivered in gossipy, superior, bitchy style. No wonder she has quite a following among gay men.

But she wants to find out more precisely what her demographic is, at least that’s the flimsy premise for the audience banter that starts the show, at which she is so effortlessly good. Thus, instead of asking the usual ‘what do you do? Where do you come from?’ questions, we get ‘do you own your own property?’ These things are important, you see.

After that, we get a brisk romp through the headlines of the first few months of this year (well, at least up to July 6 - she doesn’t want to cast too much of a depressing mood on to the gig) with typically dismissive snipes at Ellen MacArthur, Nazi Prince Harry and the like. She doesn’t have a good word for anyone.

There’s also her version of a fairy story, told with the cynicism of someone who knows from bitter experience how the world really works, and an update on her ‘shit list’ of annoyances from last year’s show – which efficiently allows her to get a lot of petty gripes off her chest.

It’s all a bit familiar, though, and the hour is too bitty to feel like a coherent show; more like a compilation of the bits of stand-up she’s written over the past 12 months. But at least she keeps writing, unlike many at her established level in the industry, and she is cattily entertaining company.

The secret to her success is explained in a brief line when she asserts, astutely, that you forge the best friendships through shared hatreds, not because you have similar interests.   That is why her comedy hits home so effectively: there are a lot of things she hates, and at least some are bound to coincide with yours.

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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