The Stand Comedy Club (Stand 1), Edinburgh
With over 3000 shows to choose from at the Fringe, we usually try to avoid seeing the same performers every year, but there are a few exceptions. Like moths to bright flames, we keep coming back to see the latest offerings from Richard Herring, Paines Plough, Flabbergast, Chris Dugdale – and, of course, Jo Caulfield.
Comedy is a broad church, and we have catholic tastes. For us, Caulfield falls into the ‘Mary’s Milk Bar ice cream’ category, i.e. an Edinburgh classic promising pure enjoyment. You know what you’re getting and it never disappoints.
She takes a few moments to check out her audience (who’s seen her before, where people have come from) and then cautions us at the top: “What I do is, I talk about myself and about who’s annoyed me since last year. That’s what this is. You won’t learn anything”. Well, good. I like life-lesson comedy, but I don’t want it all the time. Caulfield is an entertainer, and I’m ready to be entertained.
And we’re off. The laughs keep coming, thick and fast. She’s an expert; she knows exactly how to make her material fly: when to push the boundaries and when to rein things in. The topics are wide-ranging – from her mum’s favourite TV programmes to nationalising the railways; from irksome neighbours to European mini-breaks – and all skewered with her trademark caustic wit. Her onstage persona is blisteringly impatient. “Fuck off!” she roars on more than one occasion, irritated by the idiocy – and sometimes mere existence – of other people (and crafters in particular). But there’s always that twinkle, that sly charm, that means she gets away with it.
We were tired when we arrived. Now we’re energised. We leave smiling, and head off to the pub.