"Jo Caulfield - Cruel To Be Kind" - 4 Stars (from Chortle)
Jo Caulfield stands on stage at the top of the show, grasping a clipboard like an officious teacher on a school trip. It’s not the Caulfield we’re used to, more likely to be spotted in a dark, sweaty comedy club with pint in one hand and the mic in the other issuing forth with her acerbic punchlines.
But here at the Fringe she has the luxury of a sizeable audience (on a Tuesday night no less - impressive) all to herself for a whole hour. As it turns out the clipboard serves to replace the traditional stand-up’s opening of ‘give me a cheer if you’re from (insert country of choice)’ plus we get the amusing image of Caulfield doing a bit of admin as she coolly surveys her crowd.
More of the clipboard later, but the meat of the show is typical Caulfield fare, full of the assured gags of a consummate performer. For those not in the know, her stage persona is that of the cynical, slightly bitchy mate always ready to arch an eyebrow if you’re boring her and scold with her barbed wit.
It’s a persona epitomised in her story of how the tall Caulfield feels protective of her ‘little lady friends’ all a good few inches shorter than her and particularly feminine whereas she finds herself stood with a man at the bar having a ‘bloke conversation’.
It’s easy to see why she’s such a stalwart of the circuit as Caulfield’s is classic comedy of recognition, there are gasps of laughter around the room at her statement that everyone of a certain age has an annoying mate that you’ve been friends with so long that it’s got far too late to drop them. Elsewhere there’s also an uncannily accurate depiction of the office party.
Then after the straight observational gags, the icing on the sponge is a nice ‘realistic’ working of a fairytale and the culmination of her survey, researching how the Brits lose their virginity – creating a humour out of the mild embarrassment and gentle ribbing of the front row.