EdinburghFestival.org review of Awkward Conversations...
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Well this is awkward… Jo Caulfield picked me out of the audience and lampooned my lovable, hangdog Humphrey Bogart / Droopy good looks. And then got other people to pick on me. And only later as I left did I whisper that I was reviewing her show.
But then, that’s what happens when you sit at a table at the front in a comedy show.
Caulfield’s show works around the awkward conversations that life throws at us – relationships, family, work, getting older, getting divorced, getting laid. And she is mouthy, sweary and deadly funny in her one-liners and put-downs.
On parents: “I now don’t think of them so much as parents, more like harmless mental patients”.
On husbands: “Just you go and make a cup of tea for me, bitch!”
There is a bitchy, yet easy conversational style to Jo’s humour that make her “I know I’m terrible for thinking or saying this, but…” type of revelations mocking and friendly, rather than the rather stark and shockingly honest statements which they often actually are.
Because she is so smart, chatty and good-natured, it doesn’t come across as bitchy, even when it certainly is. She has a natural skill to draw in the audience, even in one of the most awkwardly-shaped venues to play in Edinburgh, with an audience spread from being inches away to being 30 feet distant and across all three sides of the room.
Her banter with the audience is natural and easy, and she takes mischievous delight in poking fun at individual and groups in the room, and quite hilariously misidentifies a father and daughter as a couple. I think it’s called establishing rapport, but that makes it sound tricky. It seems effortless. Whether she’s ad-libbing with the audience or bringing in her scripted material on ‘awkwardness’, the laughs come regularly and easily, and she has a deft, masterful control over the audience that she wields seemingly without trying. She’s just having a little old chat with us, and is gossiping and poking fun about those awkward situations.
Her descriptions of the foibles and daft remarks of her husband, friends and relatives are told with casual yet stark clarity, and she draws us in beguilingly with the simplicity of the telling. All the time she’s mocking them, and almost inevitably elevating her own status and superiority, but she does all so very slickly and smilingly that you’re always eager to hear yet more terrible things from her.
Jo Caulfield’s comedy is fast-paced, very funny and very enjoyable, Caulfield has a caustic and acid tongue that is never really used cruelly, but it is devastating. And yet, at the same time, even when you’re the victim of her put-downs, you’re laughing with her, because she’s so observant, her comic timing is immaculate and very simply, she is so bloody funny.
I come to listen to comedy to laugh. Come to this show, and you will. It’s that simple. (EdinburghFestival.og) August 2015