Monday, November 13, 2006

My Latest Review

BBC.CO.UK Cambridgeshire

Review: Jo Caulfield at the Junction By Jan Gilbert

Sparkling one-liners, keen observational humour, and easy banter with the audience... Jan Gilbert gives Jo Caulfield's stand-up show a 'don't miss' rating!

There can't be many comedians who can lay claim to an 80-minute set of pure comedy gold, but Jo Caulfield – the writer behind Graham Norton's comic diatribes – is definitely one of them, as she proved to a packed house at the Junction on Friday night.

No one was safe as Caulfield kicked off the show passing a watchful eye over the assembled crowd. "Is that a couple up there?" she asked a man and woman who probably thought they'd be safely out of the comedian's firing line up in the balcony. Their reply did little to save them from further mocking, much to the rest of the audience's amusement.

After Caulfield finished sweeping her eagle eyes over the audience in search of more mirth-making material, she moved on to her main subject for the first half of the evening: anything that made her annoyed or angry, the idea being that writing down whatever annoys you releases your anger. As the second half would cover anything that irritated her audience, "by the end of the show", reasoned Caulfield, "we'll either feel much better or we'll all be very, very angry!"

And with that she was off, ripping through everything from nights out ("parties at people's houses are such an effort... I can drink wine on the stairs at home"), through shopping (Argos, "where everyone's dressed for the gym but nobody goes"), to families ("I spoke to my mum today cause... I don't have Caller ID").

A cracking first half of sparkling one-liners, keen observational humour, and easy banter with the audience was topped off with five hilarious minutes based around stories by six and seven-year-olds about what they'll do when they marry.

After the interval it was time for Caulfield to dissect the audience's questionnaires. Just what made Cambridge angry and annoyed? Answers ranged from the random (hamsters) to the confusing ("the man with ferrets who shouts outside our window in the middle of the night"); from the smart aleck (questionnaires) to the predictable (dawdling tourists, bad driving); and from the all encompassing (life) to the understandable ("My boss, because he's a muppet"). But Caulfield's witty comments on all of them drew appreciative laughter and applause from the audience.

In fact Caulfield's gig could best be described as a non-stop laughter fest. Even the harshest critic couldn't help but be won over by her startlingly sharp routine. It's easy to see why she's in such demand as both a writer and a performer, and why her shows sell out so quickly wherever she goes. According to Caulfield, comedy shows are a great date for couples who've been together a while as "he gets to have a few beers and somebody else talks to her", but with quality stand-up like hers on offer, it's a great night out that nobody should miss.

Jan Gilbert October 2006

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Buying A Book

You ever buy a book from one of the big internet sites like Amazon?

It's fantastic.

You can buy anything from Amazon. I used it last month. They offered to match me with what I wanted, so I asked for something cheap, trashy and lightweight – imagine my surprise when Abi Titmuss turned up.

The other great thing about Amazon is when you buy a book they tell you what "other customers who bought that same book also purchased”.

For example, customers who bought 'Tony and Cherie: A Special Relationship' also bought 'Macbeth'.

Customers who bought 'The 100 Cutest Kittens and Puppies', also bought 'Why Men Leave'.

And customers who bought ‘Fools Rush In’ by Anthea Turner, also purchased a length of strong rope and a wobbly chair.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Heathrow Airport

One week on from the 10th and Heathrow is slowly getting back to normal.

But it was reassuring to see Britain’s airlines reacting so swiftly.
Within minutes of the security levels being raised…
BA cancelled all domestic flights.
Virgin cancelled all carry-on luggage.
And Easy Jet cancelled all fresh sandwiches.

A spokesman for British Airways said, all passengers will face at least a 4 hour delay.

A spokesman for Easy Jet said, one day Easy Jet hoped they could provide such a well-run service.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

First Blog, First Tour

So I finally got one of these things set up. (Thanks to Richard. He also did the website by the way.) Anyway, to test it out I'm putting up this article I wrote for Time Out magazine. After that I'm aiming to keep this thing updated at least once every... week? Fortnight? Okay, week.

Me on tour...

I’ve just started my first national tour so I’m living out of my suitcase. Or I would be if I could get my suitcase in the room. Have you seen the size of the rooms in a Travelodge? There’s just enough space for the broken bed, the broken chair and the broken television. But hey what do you expect for £50 a night? Basic comforts?

Last Friday I drove to Cardiff for my show at the Sherman Theatre. Anyone doing this journey should be warned that it now costs £4.90 to enter Wales. Which does make Wales seem like some kind of theme park, but without the animals. Or the rides. Or the fun. (Personally I think they should have drama students dressed in national costume to greet you on your arrival. Not because I’m interested in the national costume. No, I just don’t like drama students.)

The next day I spent two hours driving round Warwick looking for Warwick Arts Centre. Finally an embarrassed looking policeman told me, “Warwick Arts Centre isn’t in Warwick. It’s in Coventry.”

I don’t get that. Why call it Warwick Arts Centre? They could call it anything. They could call it The Sydney Harbour Bridge, because that’s not in Warwick either!

Later that evening as I checking into my hotel, the man and woman with two toddlers in-front of me were asking for a family “smoking room” – Hmmm there’s a nice thought.

This is the side of comedy the audiences never see. The long motorway journeys. The depressing hotel rooms. And eating unhealthy food at motorway services. The next time someone asks, “Why are there so few female stand-ups?” – there’s your answer.

Because of that I’m really looking forward to my London show because the venues only ten minutes from my house and I can walk there.

I’ve never actually done a show in my area before and I’m half afraid I’ll recognise local faces in the audience. “Doesn’t that man work in Barclays Bank?” “Isn’t that the woman that I had a row with in Tescos cause she took my trolley?”

(I did have a woman in Tescos ask me, “Weren’t you on Have I Got News for You?” and when I said, “Yes” she looked in my trolley and said “Fish fingers? I’ll bet Ian Hislop doesn’t eat fish fingers!” before inexplicably storming off.)

So this Friday I can walk to the show and I can sleep in my own bed. Shame the foods so bad!

(1st published in Time Out 17/02/06)